Now This Is A Correlation

Here are two maps:

One of these is a map of the 20 states with the highest SAT scores for 2009. The other is the map of the states where ten percent or fewer students took the SAT in 2009.

Can you guess which is which ?


6 thoughts on “Now This Is A Correlation

  1. Ugh

    IIRC the explanation when I was in HS in Iowa for this was that most of the Universities in the Midwest, especially public universities, would accept an ACT score (or maybe would ONLY accept an ACT score) so that’s what most of the people took. People looking to go to school outside the Midwest had to take the SAT, and since these people were the generally better students looking to go to the best schools (there are some good schools in the Midwest, but there’s nothing to compare to the Ivy League and similar schools on each coast), the scores were higher.

    Was there data out there on average ACT score?

  2. cleek

    Was there data out there on average ACT score?

    didn’t see it. didn’t look very hard, though.

    i suppose my reason for posting this was that there are a lot of people out there today who seem to think SAT scores are related to teacher union strength, or to lingering Union/Confederacy things, or whatever. seems pretty obvious to me that the reason the midwest states have the highest SAT scores is that only their best students take them.

    Wisconsin might be the best place in the world, but they’re not high up on the SAT score list because of strong teacher unions. they’re high up because only 3% of their kids take the SAT, unlike NY and Maine (#45 and #50) where 85-90% of students take them.

  3. joel hanes

    Wisconsin does very well, thank you, in any state ranking of educational achievement, and the five states that prohibit collective bargaining by teachers do between indifferently and abysmally.

    So despite the fact that state-average SAT scores are a damned poor proxy for successful k-12 education, the point being made by “people out there” still stands: there is a positive correlation between collective bargaining for teachers and positive educational outcomes.

    Here’s the latest Morgan Quitno (2007) rankings, which are weighted multi-factor:

  4. cleek

    the five states that prohibit collective bargaining by teachers do between indifferently and abysmally.

    the talking point going around is apparently based on the Rank(Rank(SAT) + Rank(ACT)) – that is, the new rank is based on the sum of the SAT and ACT ranks…

    and for the five states in question, that gives:

    Virginia – 44th
    Texas – 47th
    Georgia – 48th
    North Carolina – 49th
    South Carolina – 50th

    but if we use your table, we get:

    Virginia – 6th
    Texas – 25th
    Georgia – 41th
    North Carolina – 23th
    South Carolina – 26th

    that’s a fairly huge difference – i’m sure VA would claim that 6th is neither indifferent nor abysmal. WI, @ 8, would probably agree.

    and i’m not sure that shows any correlation at all. according to your table, a state without collective bargaining could be in the top ten, the bottom ten, or, more likely, right smack in the middle. that’s not much of a correlation.

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