VIDEO: Report Card on American Education Co-Author Discusses Report Findings with The Wall Street Journal
Foundation for Excellence in Education Senior Adviser Dr. Matthew Ladner joined the Wall Street Journal on Thursday to talk about the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Report Card on American Education. Dr. Ladner is a co-author of the report.
Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Member Mary Kissel made note of the report’s top-performing states: Indiana, Florida, Arizona, Washington, D.C., and Louisiana. As Dr. Ladner detailed, one commonality between top performers are strong charter school laws.
Affluent families inherently have a higher level of school choice, while low-income families are the most reliant on the state to provide educational opportunities and access. Washington, D.C. has implemented one of the most robust charter school programs over the last decade, with more than 40 percent of its students now attending charter schools. Students have experienced an improvement in achievement as a result: students in 2013 scored an average of two grade levels higher on national tests than in 2003.
Indiana, which scored the highest on the report, surged to a “B+” up from a grade of “C+” in 2007. Indiana also provides a very robust charter school program and some of the best voucher and tax incentive programs for students to attend private schools. Over the same time frame, student performance in the state increased from 13th to 4th nationally.
The report’s worst performers were Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Vermont. North Dakota trailed the nation with an overall score of “D.” Dr. Ladner noted that while American students are doing better than in the past, they are still lagging behind their peers internationally.
Broadly speaking, the report found there is no single solution for improving student performance. Real improvement means adopting comprehensive reforms that provide more transparency and more school choice. States that have been successful have enacted policies that raised academic standards, strengthened charter school laws, improved teacher quality and advanced student options through digital learning. Some improvements have been made over recent years, but as Dr. Ladner suggests, there is still much to accomplish.