U of M data ‘expert’ gets the data wrong on Mississippi / Minnesota comparison

Last week our Education Policy Fellow Catrin Wigfall testified in front of an Administrative Law Judge and the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) about their latest proposal requiring new teachers to prove they are woke enough to teach in Minnesota schools — public and private. You can read Catrin’s latest here for more information on the proposed rule change or watch her comments here.

In her testimony, she correctly pointed out that Black and Hispanic students in Mississippi are outperforming Black and Hispanic students in Minnesota in math and reading. She has written about this troubling phenomenon repeatedly. The data source is the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a test given to a representative sample of students in fourth and eighth grade in every state. It is the only comparison tool available for comparing the states.

A few speakers later, it was Jamie Utt-Schumacher’s turn to speak. Utt-Schumacher is an accountability analyst with the office of teacher education at the University of Minnesota. After unnecessarily pointing out that he uses he/him pronouns and has a “gender expansive child” (whatever that means), Utt-Schumacher went away from his prepared remarks to correct Wigfall’s comparison of Mississippi/Minnesota students “because I’m a data analyst who believes we need to use data with integrity.”

He then proceeded to lose all of his integrity.

Utt-Schumacher said:

“I just pulled up the Nation’s Report Card data because of something said earlier. It is simply demonstrably false that Mississippi’s Black and Hispanic students outperform Minnesota’s comparable populations. The data is transparent for all to see at www.nationsreportcard.gov.”

He got the website right but exactly which data is he looking at? The most recent data on the Nation’s Report Card (NAEP data) is from 2019 in reading and math for fourth and eighth graders. In every single comparison, Mississippi Black and Hispanic students outperform their peers in Minnesota.

Minnesota Mississippi
4th Grade Reading Hispanic202221
4th Grade Reading Black201209
8th Grade Reading Hispanic247259
8th Grade Reading Black236244
4th Grade Math Hispanic224244
4th Grade Math Black226230
8th Grade Math Hispanic268277
8th Grade Math Black255258
Source: www.nationsreportcard.gov

This “data analyst” from the University of Minnesota can’t read data.

For many years, Minnesotans have used Mississippi as their punching bag to justify our “high tax, high service” state. We pay high taxes here in Minnesota so we don’t end up like those backwards southern states like Mississippi. Except now Mississippi is ahead in K-12 education.

The pointy-headed liberals in ivory towers at the U of M should swallow their pride and examine what Mississippi has done to improve their reading and math scores – it’s a great policy success story. And a good reminder that our students ultimately compete in a national and international economy, where other states are innovating all the time to give their kids a leg up. Even Mississippi.