Education Sector, a Washington think tank with apparently liberal leanings, castigated many states -- particularly Wisconsin -- for manipulating the way they handled reporting required by No Child Left Behind. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes:
Kevin Carey, the author of the report, created what he called "a Pangloss Index," ranking states by how they are implementing provisions of the four-year-old law if their goal was to imitate a fictional character from Voltaire's "Candide," "who insisted, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that we live in the best of all possible worlds."
Wisconsin ranks first in the index, followed by Iowa, Connecticut and Nebraska.
"The state is a modern day educational utopia where a large majority of students meet academic standards, high school graduation rates are high, every school is safe and nearly all teachers are highly qualified," if you believe what the DPI says, the report says.
"How is that possible?" it then asks. "The answer lies with the way Wisconsin has chosen to define the AYP (adequate yearly progress) standard" and other provisions in the law.
Tony Evers, deputy state superintendent of schools, took strong exception to the report's claim that Wisconsin is out to frustrate the federal law.
"I couldn't disagree more," he said. "The intent of the law wasn't to rank states on gaming the system. The intent of the law was to have no child left behind, and I believe absolutely it has brought a significant focus on that issue." He said the DPI was committed to doing everything it could to close the gap in achievement between high performing and low performing schools and groups of students.
The report is here. In case you're curious, Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico and Nevada were the least "optimistic," according to the researchers.