Did PBS find cause of Alaska students’ poor test scores? Climate change?



If we’re to believe PBS science reporting, then climate change may be to blame for Alaska’s students performing worse than ever.

That would explain then why, with the Arctic warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet, Alaska’s students have fallen further behind in their scoring on the standardized PEAKS test they took last spring.

Students in Alaska did no better on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2017. Only 32 percent of students in Alaska performed at or above the national NAEP Proficient level in math.

[See more about Alaska’s NAEP math trends here]

PBS’s science headline reports, “The hotter the planet grows, the less children are learning.” They’ve got science to prove it, as well as anecdotal evidence from a teacher or two.

Of course, it makes sense. Everyone feels more sluggish when the temperatures soar, which is why offices are kept at a more ideal temperature range of 68-74 degrees.

But a Cornell Study showed that 77-degree offices actually reduced errors and are better for business.

What’s an eager science believer to believe?

PBS reports that for every 1 degree Fahrenheit increase in outdoor temperature over a year, there’s a 1 percent reduction in student learning.

Denver High School French teacher Tiffany Choi says the current heat wave in Denver is making the students sleepy.

“Today was a little bit hot, so I noticed kids were very sleepy and they were having to get up to drink water quite often. If you are dehydrated, and you have to keep going to the water fountain, that can take away from their classroom experience,” Choi told the reporter.

The heat wave in Colorado led to the following PBS reportage:

“The connection between lost learning and a greater number of hot days is one more example of how climate change is already affecting our lives — and it’s an alarm bell for what we stand to lose in the future. Humans still have time to allay the worst consequences of continued global warming. But unless significant changes occur in the next decade — which seem more and more unlikely — the world will be locked into an inescapable period of heat waves unlike our species has ever seen.”

The report cited further proof: “Hotter Southern counties — like in Florida and Texas — showed lower test scores than counties in the North, even after controlling for other socioeconomic factors like family income, county economic status or local pollution.”

“Aside from glimpsing what this limbo period will be mean for young students and their ability to learn, the study adds to hefty debate around how developed nations will be influenced by global warming. The prominent theory is low-income countries will bear the brunt of consequences, but this study and others point toward nuanced calamities for places like the U.S.,” says the PBS report.

In other spurious correlation news, Great Alaska Schools, the organization that advocates for more money for schools, last year blamed funding for the low test scores:

“I think that (the numbers) tell us that our schools are struggling to keep up with the low funding that they’ve received from the Legislature over the past few years,” Aaron Poe of Great Alaska Schools told a reporter. “There really have been some pretty significant cuts over the past few years and I think we’re starting to see some of that now with these low test scores.”

[Read: Are Alaska’s schools and educational desert?]

Must Read Alaska’s crack research team ran the numbers on state education rankings and temperature and found that Alaska, with the lowest average temperatures in the United States also ranks 47th out of 50 for education achievement, according to U.S. News and World Report:

While on the other hand, Alaska, with its low educational ranking, would do well in a Zombie Apocalypse, according to our research team, which provided this stunning analysis:


  1. Yet another example of placing the blame on factors other than the education system itself. I call baloney.

    • Ummmm, let’s connect some other dots and come up with a “valid conclusion.” as biased and closed minded agenda driven as PBS has.

      Students obesity have gone up and grades have gone down…. Conclusion obesity dumb down students! Thus we MUST CONTROL DIETS

      Hollywood increase political influences and Students grades go down. HOLLYWOOD NEEDS TO CALM DOWN

      Population have increased in the world And grades have gone down… Ban sex

      Gun regulations have increased as Students grades miss the target… End gun regulations.

      As illegal immigration increases grades go down….build the wall.

      Sometimes two events may happen but there is no connection unless one has an agenda or myopic vision.

      Perhaps looking into the school text books, the methodology of teachers, the actual goal of the educational of those make the decisions at the top, the role of the federal department of education mandates and the end results, and mainstreaming all students by age, not skills and behaviour as results just lower the bar too much.

  2. Good grief! The Democrats and Lefties are really stooping low. What’s driving average scores down in Alaska is the parent’s lack of attention due to THESE factors:
    1. Marijuana useage;
    2. Preoccupation with hate campaigns against Trump and Dunleavy;
    3. Mainstream media reporting;
    4. Time invested with LGBTQ issues;
    5. Selfishness by parents to teach their kids to be objective and think for themselves;
    6. Fantasies of gloom and destruction due to obsession with climate change.

    • Wow! Suzanne and her faithful at MRAK consistently produce the brightest and most logical thinking women in Alaska. Very impressive! Keep going, Ladies.

  3. What these “scientists” at PBS fail to account for is that correlation does not equal causation, pretty basic concept really.

  4. 1. What is the educational teaching certification standard that must be both met and maintained prior to and during the educational employment contract?

    2. What level of teacher quality evaluation within that teacher’s educational expertise is implemented and maintained within their personel file?

    3. As knowledge by itself does not automatically translate into teaching ability, what standard of “ability to bring the hay down to where the cow’s can eat it” is applied and maintained in order to ensure success in the classroom.

    4. What level of individual discussion / interface is done with each student thereby ensuring that a student is grasping the information imparted by the teacher.

    5. Has an analysis been conducted within each district as to the viability of introducing specialty trade schools as Governor Parnell had proposed?

    6. Has an analysis been conducted as to the economic comparison of location as compared scholastic success within the classroom?

    7. Has there been an analysis conducted as to area crime, household spouse abuse and it’s impact on a child’s ability to learn.

    Clearly, there is a huge educational disconnect within our school system. Money will not cure this I’ll. There has been no success measured by improved educational results as they have gotten worse.

    It is time to analyze the entire school educational structure. It is time to get it fixed

  5. The only solution is to pull all the kids out of this Marxist School system and Home School them and these troubles disappear. Forget these reports and your stress will disappear.
    Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

  6. Here’s a school and climate related possibility:
    Consider the anti-motivator created when they introduced: Air Conditioning!
    Back in the day, shortly after other dinosaurs went extinct, the mere thought that I, or any other red-blooded elementary or middle school youngster, might have to spend their summer in a hot, sweltering, non-air conditioned SCHOOL because they hadn’t passed and had to do remedial summer-school, Gaaah!. Now that was a motivator!
    Obviously, the blame must be laid on Air Conditioning manufacturers, not advanced progressive educational philosophy?
    And look at the geography. Hot sweltering states, like the one I grew up in, had much better motivation than cool refreshing Alaska?

  7. Best line: “In other spurious correlation news, Great Alaska Schools, the organization that advocates for more money for schools, last year blamed funding for the low test scores.” Alternate title: “French teacher in Denver more reliable than Cornell.”

Comments are closed.