A half-year-old news article from the Courier-Journal about a study that ranks Kentucky’s education system as the 20th best in the nation has somehow resurfaced in the Twittersphere, and several educators are gushing over it. That makes it worthwhile to point to just a few reasons why the news article, the report and those who cite both really don’t have a good handle on education statistics. We want our readers to be sharper than that.
Curiously, the news article wasn’t written by either of the Courier’s lead education reporters. That is probably part of the explanation for why this ever surfaced in the first place. Education is a complex news beat and there are lots of ways to trip up.
The report mentioned by the Courier comes from a crowd called WalletHub. WalletHub’s main emphasis seems to be banking-related stuff like credit reporting and monitoring. How that relates to complex issues surrounding education data eludes me. In fact, there is good evidence of the lack of understanding of such education data once you dig into WalletHub’s education ranking report, which is titled “States with the Best & Worst School Systems.”
WalletHub’s report has some serious short-comings. You already have to know a fair amount about education data and still have to dig around quite a bit to figure out what WalletHub is ranking because the sourcing and referencing is abysmal. In the days of relatively easy hyperlinking, that’s really hard to understand, but there it is. Click the “Read more” link to see some comments about data I think WalletHub is ranking.