Facing Reality: New IRG Report Highlights Schools Falling Behind

Aug 28, 2022 | Press Release, Wisconsin Voices Blog

As Wisconsin students head back to the classroom this month, parents face a stark reality: other states handled COVID better and our kids are now way behind. Our top students no longer compare to the nation’s best, and even more troubling, our struggling students face greater challenges than ever.

How bad is the problem?

Well, what have you got? Our team of policy experts here at IRG has sifted through mountains of data and what we’ve found will absolutely SHOCK you.

Just in time for the first school bell, our team has gathered everything that you need to know about what’s happened in our schools. Pulling data from dozens of sources, this back-to-school snapshot has truly staggering findings about how leaders have failed your kids.

We can’t leave this generation behind. Later this year, our team will unveil a series of policy solutions to make Wisconsin an education leader once again, making us THE destination for families and businesses.

Click here for a printable version of our report or read the full version below.

Nothing is more powerful than controlling your own future. However, in Wisconsin, hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren are directionless, adrift, or unequipped to shape tomorrow in their favor.


Yes, they’re the children in Milwaukee and Beloit handed Hamlet with only a sixth-grade reading level. But they’re also kids in Hudson and Rhinelander who are told “college or bust” instead of taking a trade and a job right across the street. They’re our brightest minds in Verona and Suamico dimming next to other states’ stars but leaving for the coasts anyway.


Aimless youth become sleepwalking adults, and that’s the state we have now. We are average in GDP per worker, far below average in population growth, and the second oldest in the heartland. More non-White people end up in prison here than in any other state. All the while, we wait for something to change.


Successful states act.


They become dynamic, attractive to outsiders, and plant opportunity in every corner of their state. That begins with supercharging our schools. We can kickstart decades of growth if we give every child the skills to chase a purpose and every parent a reason to put down roots. If we act now, Wisconsin can avoid the fate of our Midwest neighbors and dictate our own course for the next half-century.


Until we do, here are the facts:

National Reading Test Scores Low

State Math Test Scores Hurt by Corona

Social Studies Feeble and Woke

Higher Spending per Student, Low Results

Choice Flaws Unfixed

High School Success Harmed

Structural Problems Unsolved