In the national comparisons with Minnesota and the  international  comparisons, we have used experienced, highly qualified academics and economists who have been most conscientious in making the difficult but reliable, trackable quantitative comparisons. For the economic comparison with Minnesota, the Survey of Current Business of the U.S. Department of Commerce: Bureau of Economic Analysis is used. In our education benchmarking, the  Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) from OECD which is updated every three years is used to show how the USA as a nation compares with some 70 other First World and Emerging Nations.  The National Assessment of Education Progress test (NAEP), administered every other year, is used to compare Wisconsin with the rest of the USA states. (And please note our demographic desegregation that breaks down and enlightens  the Wisconsin vs. Texas comparison on the ‘RESOURCES’ page.) The State of Wisconsin, unlike at least nine other states does not offer as a state either the international PISA or the other international test, The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Only currently Massachusetts and North Carolina offer PISA on a statewide basis. This is one reason that we in Wisconsin, with the exception of a few school districts that have taken at least one time the PISA test, are not aware of where the job skill competition takes place. For we do not have available the direct achievement comparison yet between the State and Other Countries.

There is considerable misunderstanding within Wisconsin education circles regarding these tests.  Unlike some thirty years ago, most leading countries including Singapore, Japan and Canada have more, not less  15 year olds taking these international tests than the United States. In the 2007 TIMSS tests, the United States  had an exclusion rate of 9.2%, the highest of any country taking the test. Most were below 3%. (TIMSS 2007 Technical Report. More recent test data is likely the same.) And for PISA tests, a set, identical sampling method is used in all countries.

And because our Wisconsin “Best and the Brightest” students no longer have the math, science and reading skills of their counterparts around the world ( Ripley,. 2011, OECD) at age 15, the K-12 education problem is not one just for immigrants, the poor and certain minorities. As referred to in the HOW EDUCATION page, most recent OECD data (2012) tested 15 year old students in First World Countries and separately targeted three groups, the top socio-economic performers, a middle group, and the economically poorest and lowest achieving students in each country. The USA’s ‘Best and the Brightest’ vis a vis their peers came in # 30. Last place!  AND problem solving and critical thinking are the key factors in these tests. There is no reason also to believe Wisconsin’s groups would score  differently. In the GMAT tests for acceptance into American MBA programs. Recent test scores of Americans students in the quantitative portion of the GMAT have fallen woefully below the scores of test takers worldwide (WSJ 11/5/14, Lindsay Gellman).

Incidentally, our Founding Fathers came from many walks of life, but were generally  literate, well educated leaders. And the Original Wisconsin Progressives of Fighting Bob La Follette, Sr. and Young Bob were most concerned about improving the lot of the Common Man. How do you really raise up the Common Man and Woman in Wisconsin today?  It seems a ‘no brainer’ to say that the only way out of the current descending morale and material quality of life is via a world class K-12 education and many more available high value ‘blue collar’ and STEM jobs . With most all K-12 Wisconsin students academically behind  their international peers, the ‘lifting up’ of the poor AND Common Folks via “Stretch Targets” is an effort that positively impacts all students and future workers. It thus deserves the support of all Wisconsinites!