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Trib editorial: Pa. students’ reading, math ‘outperformance’ nothing to cheer about

April 16, 2018 GMT

With less than half of Pennsylvania fourth- and eighth-graders scoring as proficient on 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress math and reading exams, the fact that they outperformed national averages deserves only half a cheer — at the very most.

And with Pennsylvania scores changing little from the last time these biennial exams were given, in 2015, just maintaining the status quo — merely avoiding backsliding — is nothing to cheer about, either.

The Pennsylvania scores exceeded national averages by 4 or 5 percentage points. That’s certainly preferable to lagging behind. But because that “outperformance” means that at best, 44 percent of Pennsylvania fourth- and eighth-graders scored as proficient — which means that at best, more than half of them fell short of proficiency — jeers are more fitting than cheers.

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These scores are particularly disturbing given the billions of Pennsylvania taxpayer dollars spent on public education, showing that ever-growing funding for schools hasn’t produced corresponding gains in academic performance. But count on teachers unions and the lawmakers beholden to them to perpetuate the insanity of doing the same thing — throwing still more money at public schools — and expecting better results.

And if they try to justify that approach by trumpeting Pennsylvania students’ “outperformance,” they’ll confirm their willingness to ignore just how far short of acceptable these exams’ results really are.

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