Show Me the Cheddar! Correction
Sorry guys. Turns out I passed on some bad data. It appears the correlation between collective bargaining and low test scores was old and possibly had faulty methodology. Here’s a link that clears up the mistake and adds some analysis.
Consider Wisconsin’s third-place ranking in the SAT. It sounds great — but only 4 percent of graduates in the state took the test in 2010, and those that did likely did so because they had a particular need to take the SAT as they applied to certain colleges. And that means that Wisconsin SAT takers were a self-selecting group, probably more academically advanced than average.
As a result, it’s fairer to look at Wisconsin’s ranking on the ACT, which was taken by 67 percent of graduates in 2009. And that ranking was 13th in the nation — not bad, but well short of the 2nd place finish cited in the Facebook post.
Meanwhile, in the five non-collective-bargaining states, the SAT was the more widely taken test, and in those rankings, the non-union states placed between 34th and 49th nationally. Meanwhile, for the ACT — where participation ranged from 15 percent to 50 percent — the rankings in the non-union states ranged from 22nd to 46th.
So, on neither test did the five non-collective bargaining states perform as well as Wisconsin did, and in general those five states clustered in the bottom half of the national rankings. Given these statistics, it’s reasonable to say that Wisconsin outperformed the other five states significantly — but not as overwhelmingly as the blog and Facebook posts suggest.
I do my best as always to provide accurate information. I usually try to fact-check myself and thankfully I caught this early. If anything ever gets through again and someone catches it let me know so I can correct the record. I still stand by the thrust of my argument in the previous post.