We're No. 1, Right?

Mitt Romney claims Masschusetts, not Maryland, tops the nation in education during a debate with President Barack Obama.

If you're a Star Wars fan, you might remember that Obi Wan Kenobi once cautioned that the truth is often colored by point of view.

I was reminded of that last night when Gov. Mitt Romney told viewers of last night's debate with President Barack Obama that his state, Massachusetts, was ranked No.1 in the country in education.

That one caught the attention of Maryland residents—including those who attended the Patch debate viewing party in Owings Mills Wednesday night. We all know that for the last four years the Free State has been ranked first in education by Education Week. Gov. Martin O'Malley has never been shy about pointing it out.

In fact, Maryland's governor was quick to take to Twitter to remind Romney about it:

"Hey, Governor @MittRomney, Maryland schools are #1 and have been for the last four years in a row. #Debates"

Enter Obi Wan.

O'Malley and Romney appear to be talking about the same Education Week rankings, so an apples to apples comparison should be possible.

The magazine this year used six key indicators to grade each state.

Maryland's number one ranking is an overall ranking with an 87.8—a solid B.

The magazine points out that Massachusetts is "tightly clustered" behind Maryland with a grade of 84.2.

Inside those numbers (the six indicators used by Education Week), Massachusetts is first in two: Chance for Success and K-12 Achievement.

So perhaps this is the hook Romney is hanging his statement on. We're kind of left to guess.

So, what does it all mean?

Maryland is first overall in the country in education, according to Education Week. Massachusetts leads in two of six categories within that same review.

And a reminder that politicians will parse the language and polls and studies to make the argument most favorable to their position.

Were you really surprised?

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Al Thompson October 05, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Brian, you quote numbers for this year,,,,in case you didnt realize it, Romney hasn't been Gov. of Mass. in years. Talk about using numbers 'to make the argument most favorable to their position"
JD1 October 05, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Actually Jag - rtt is the same old crap in a different wrapper. Just a different test and a few new labels like "Common Core." All sounds great but people in the know recognize that it's all bs. Whence Feds get involved in education it turns to crap. By the way, just how do YOU measure "teacher effectiveness?" Again, sounds great but nobody seems to have an answer. I might be a great social studies teacher, but if a kid I teach has has lousy reading and writing teachers he will struggle and it has nothing to do with me. There are far too many variables that affect a kids performance to pin it down tontheneffectiveness of a single teacher. RTT sounds good to the ignorant, but is just another load of crap from the DOE.
Jeff Andrade October 05, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Tim: NAEP does assess performance of 12th graders and has done it for a national sample for many years, but the state assessments for 12th graders just started as a pilot in 2009 and only included 11 states. There are more years of data and broader state participation for the 4th and 8th grade state assessments, enabling state comparisions basically because the No Child Left Behind Act required states to participate in the NAEP for reading and math to get Title I funds. Moreover, it's important to note that state compulsory school attendance rates vary between ages 16 and 18, and high school graduation rates are only about 75 percent (with grad rates more like 50 percent in many urban high schools, like in Balitimore). So that means, once they do become more universal, the NAEP state 12th grade assessments will not reflect those students who leave school before the assessment, possibly skewing the real results for secondary education. Nonetheless, NAEP despite its limitiations, is currently the best common results yardstick out there, and Romney was on safe ground claiming that Massachusetts schools were ranked #1 among all the states, with O'Malley's counterclaim based on a private ranking system that puts much less emphasis on actual student results.
JD1 October 07, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Just think how great our Maryland schools would be if we weren't burning millions of dollars in Baltimore City - the latest good news for tax payers: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-schools-legislative-audit-20121006,0,6549823.story
Nathan October 20, 2012 at 03:48 PM
jag is soooo angry...thanks for the entertainment buddy...


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