Since nearly a quarter of America’s public-school students are educated in California and Texas, the states’ performance matters profoundly for the country’s future. Yet less than 7% of economically disadvantaged kids are prepared for college, compared with 27% of children who are not economically disadvantaged. Those who enroll in community college or university in either state can spend months taking remedial courses before their coursework counts towards a degree, says Jim Lanich of Educational Results Partnership, an ngo. California’s students underperform Texas’s in several areas, including maths and science, and its Hispanic and African-American students do worse, too. But neither state has much to boast about.