Blog of the Century Contributor Corey Bunje Bower writes that in last week's debate, Mitt Romney took credit for Massachusetts' position atop some education rankings. Yes, it's generally true that Massachusetts ranks at or near the top. More specifically, the state has frequently had the highest average score on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). But the more important question is why Massachusetts ranks so highly.
Was it something that Romney did while Governor, or are there other factors at play? The second question is really quite easy to answer. It's almost certainly something other than Romney's actions. For two reasons:
1.) Children in Massachusetts earned really high test scores both before and after Romney was Governor.
2.) We know from decades of research that non-school factors influence achievement far more than in-school factors. So it's exceedingly unlikely that a few state-level policy tweaks, implemented for a mere four years, could impact student performance dramatically enough to boost Massachusetts to the top of the nation.