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Sustainable Education — Wisconsin’s Strengths and Weaknesses

By Kathy Marks

The 2009 Wisconsin Sustainable Business Report, sponsored by the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s Green Tier program provides a variety of sustainability baselines for Wisconsin provides an interesting — sustainable — look at Wisconsin’s education system.

According to the report, Wisconsin has one of the best educational systems in the nation. Over 85.1% of Wisconsin residents over the age of 25 have high school diplomas and 22.4% have a bachelor’s degree or higher. In the last decade, Wisconsin has seen a 13% increase in the number of high school graduates. And Wisconsin does a good job at college prep. In 2008, 86% of schools offered students the opportunity to earn high school and college credits.

Further, when it comes to academic testing — Wisconsin students have a strong performance. Seventy-seven percent of all students had a proficient or advanced math score in 2009. And 81.6% had a proficient or advanced reading score. In the last 17 years, Wisconsin students have ranked either first or second on the ACT and second in the world for an international science test comparison.

That said, Wisconsin’s educational system needs to address the achievement gap between minorities and white students. While Asians have a 90% graduation rate, only 67% of African American students graduate, while Native Americans and Latinos are at 75%.