An eager reader submits this report on eighth-grade math scores. Researchers at the National Center for Education Statistics converted scores on the NAEP, a test commonly used in the United States, to align with the TIMSS, a test more commonly used worldwide.
Good news #1: America's eighth graders out-reckon the international average by a couple points (509 to 500).
Bad news #1: Canadians still beat us (512 in Ontario, 532 in Québec, suggesting that growing up bilingual sharpens your math brain!).
Bad news #1.2: economic competitors Korea, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan really beat us (ranging from 570 in Japan to 613 in Korea).
Good news #2: South Dakota's score (521) places us among 36 states outperforming our national average.
Bad news #2: South Dakota is only in the middle of that above-average pack. Among adjoining states, everyone's eighth graders but Nebraska's score better on the NAEP-TIMSS conversion. We're 22nd, while Minnesota places third (545), the only Midwest entry in a top five dominated by the Northeast.
Compare those math scores (based on 2011 test data) with America's political landscape, and you'll find that eight of the ten states at the top of the math scores picked Barack Obama over Mitt Romney in 2012, five of them by double-digit margins. Nine of the bottom ten voted for Romney, eight of them by double-digit margins.
Over the entire dataset, the correlation doesn't come out entirely strong, but at the tops and bottoms of the list, if the kids are getting their love (or hate) of math from their parents, they could reflect the fact that people who can do math, recognized that Romney, Ryan, and the Republicans cannot.