Editorial: K-12 Spending Increase Fails to Produce Results

From the Flint Hills Center:

K-12 Spending Increase Fails to Produce Results

(WICHITA) -A new study from the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy, “K-12 Spending and Achievement in Kansas,” finds that per-pupil spending has increased 104% over the last fifteen years, but student achievement scores remain unacceptably low.

According to data from the Kansas State Department of Education, per-pupil spending has more than doubled from $5,987 in 1993 to $12,188 in 2008.

“It’s not just that Kansans are spending more on schools, they’re spending more on each student,” says study author John R. LaPlante. “They’re spending more than $12,000 per student, but two out of three students are not reading at grade level. In the last ten years, per-pupil spending has increased $5,300, but reading scores have remained flat. That’s not the sign of an effective approach to education.”

In the 2007-08 school year, Kansas’s government-run public schools had a full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment that was just 2.2 percent higher than the FTE in 1993. But spending from 1993 to 2008 has increased substantially, whether measured by growth in total spending (108 percent) or per-pupil spending (104 percent). For the 2007-08 school year, Kansas government-run public schools spent $5.4 billion.

LaPlante cites achievement results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a test given in all states, supervised by the National Center for Education Statistics within the U.S. Department of Education.
There are positive signs in recent mathematic scores, but half of all fourth-grade students are still not proficient and a large majority of eighth graders fail the proficiency test. Yet the performance of Kansas students on the NAEP reading tests remains unacceptably low; scores have remained relatively flat and for both fourth-grade and eighth-grade, roughly two of every three students are not proficient.

The dramatic education spending growth fails to produce high key performance measurements. The report recommends that the Legislature take steps to improve the effectiveness of Kansas schools. Such steps include improving policies regarding teacher recruitment, retention and discipline and changing the funding formulas to let the money follow the child to the school of the parent’s choice.

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