In recent days, lots of media outlets have been talking about a U.S. Census Bureau study on per-student spending on K-12 public education in every state and Washington, D.C. Idaho ranks next to last, just above Utah.
According to the 2008 Census data, public school systems spent an average of $10,259 per pupil, a 6.1 percent increase over 2007. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia spent above this amount; 32 spent less.
The states that spent the most per pupil: New York ($17,173), New Jersey ($16,491), Alaska ($14,630), the District of Columbia ($14,594), Vermont ($14,300) and Connecticut ($13,848).
The states that spend the least per pupil: Utah ($5,765), Idaho ($6,931), Arizona ($7,608), Oklahoma ($7,685) and Tennessee ($7,739).
“We must consider this report in context. I’ve now worked at the local, state and federal levels in education, and there has never been a time I have said, ‘Take this money back. We can’t figure out how to spend it.’ We’re always looking for more sources of revenue,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said.
“Still, while looking at revenues and per-pupil expenditures is important, it is not the most important indicator in measuring the success of a public education system. The most important indicator is results,” Superintendent Luna said.
Idaho has made great stride in student achievement, especially when compared to other states.
Over the past two years, Idaho has led the nation in the increase in the number of schools meeting Idaho’s high academic goals, known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). In 2007, 26% of Idaho schools made AYP. Just two years later, 66% of schools made AYP.
Idaho also performs well on the Nation’s Report Card, the only nationwide assessment that compares states based on student achievement.
Last year, Idaho was one of only a few states to show progress in raising student achievement in math on the Nation’s Report Card. In fact, only eight states scored higher than Idaho in 8th grade math scores on the 2009 assessment.
In reading, Idaho students also continue to outperform the national average on the Nation’s Report Card.
Superintendent Luna said he recognizes Idaho still has a long way to go in order to ensure every Idaho student graduates from high school prepared to live, work and succeed in the ever-changing 21st century.
~ Melissa M.