Recently the 2006 National Assessment of Education Progress was released, and the public education establishment has been promoting that in the fourth and eighth grades South Carolina is a little below average, not last, in the country.
But they also insist on propagating the myth that, as was reported in the Greenville News, "NAEP scores are often considered a far more accurate representation of student achievement than the SAT. State-by-state comparisons on the SAT are unfair because of the large disparity in the number of students who take the test in each state."
That SC's SAT scores are low because a large number of students take the test is the myth that just won't go away because the public education establishment doesn't want it to go away. The reality is, the better educated the typical SC student’s parents are, the further his SAT scores trail his peers nationally.
That myths like this take on a life of their own and impact public perceptions regardless of what the facts actually are is the reason I reacted so strongly last week to the perception that the Riley Institute study reported, "South Carolinians across the state largely agree about how to improve our schools." The last election for Superintendent of Education was decided by a few hundred votes between opponents who had radically different views for fixing education. That there is a strong consensus about what to do to fix public education just isn't so.
We need recognize that some progress has been made in public education in recent years. We also need to recognize that there are deep and fundamental problems that incremental changes won't fix.