Milwaukee, Fresno fail reading for low-income kids

If you plan to be reincarnated as a low-income student and you’d like to be literate, pick Tampa, New York City or Miami, writes Matthew Ladner, who’s been looking at the urban NAEP results. Avoid Milwaukee and Fresno, where very few low-income students reach proficiency in reading.


Washington, D.C. “has improved but is still horrible,” he adds, writing on Jay Greene’s blog. “Everyone in Wisconsin ought to be horrified by the abomination that is the Milwaukee Public Schools.”


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  1. Stats like this that don’t take illegal aliens undocumented aliens paperwork-challenged individuals?) into account are dishonest. Texas and California have loads of kids coming across the border that take years to get to proficiency, even if the system is working perfectly. Milwaukee, I would guess, does not.

  2. Maybe I’m not getting the percentage figures on the right-hand side of the bar graph (no link to the actual study?), but it looks from here like even the best of them is at 28 percent.

    If you are reincarnated as a low-income student and you’d like to be literate, you would still have only a 1 in 4 chance of it even if you were in Tampa, New York City or Miami.

    This is a terrible indictment of the entire system, which serves the poor very badly, and not just the ones at the bottom. maybe it’s time for a little equity medicine, and not some hokum about the best districts or teachers.

  3. Mark Roulo says:

    Things may not be as bad as they appear.

    If I read the NEAP data correctly, only 32% of the nation’s 4th graders score proficient or above. We can make this score as good or as bad as we like by adjusting the cut-line for proficient, but this doesn’t change the underlying reality one bit.

    • Deirdre Mundy says:

      So, we’re not just failing low income kids, the system stinks for EVERYONE! Hooray! Time to celebrate!

  4. Walter E Wallis says:

    Maybe it is time for government to get out of the ed biz. They seem not to have the knack for it.

  5. It was invitation-only which is why Detroit didn’t show up at the bottom of the list.