STATE OF THE STATES: We've all heard grumblings about the lackluster quality of U.S. education as a whole, but last week the Department of Education released a report of academic performance statistics, state-by-state. Some results are what you might guess: 8th grade math students in Mass. and Michigan typically best their counterparts in West Va., and Mississippi. Some details are thought-provoking: Mississippi has just about the lowest high school grad rate in the nation at 62%, but 78% of those grads go to college--a higher proportion than any other state in the union. By contrast, Vermont has a 90% high school graduation rate but only 13% of grads head to college. Kudos for the many color-coded maps accompanying each data set. Not so much for the hard-to-read Powerpoints.