Their task is to educate whole generations, but if California and Texas were to be graded for their achievements in the classroom, they would barely pass. They rank 36th and 41st, respectively, out of 51 states (including Washington, dc) for educational outcomes, according to Education Week, a news firm. Only 29% of fourth-graders (aged 9-10) in Texas and 31% of their counterparts in California are proficient in reading at their grade level, compared with 35% nationally, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which measures student achievement (see charts on next page).
Since nearly a quarter of America’s public-school students are educated in California and Texas, the states’ performance matters profoundly for the country’s future. Yet less than 7% of economically disadvantaged kids are prepared for college, compared with 27% of children who are not economically disadvantaged. Those who enroll in community college or university in either state can spend months taking remedial courses before their coursework counts towards a degree, says Jim Lanich of Educational Results Partnership, an ngo. California’s students underperform Texas’s in several areas, including maths and science, and its Hispanic and African-American students do worse, too. But neither state has much to boast about.