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April 26, 2015

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Analysis finds correlation between high education spending, high graduation rates


Leila Navidi

Jazmin Rodriguez-Davila gets some help from friends with her tassle and robes during the Mojave High School commencement ceremony at the Orleans Arena on Friday, June 15, 2012.

How does Nevada fare?

This year, the U.S. Department of Education released a state-by-state list of high school graduation rates for the 2010-11 school year. (Data for Kentucky, Idaho and Oklahoma were not reported for that year.)

Nevada posted a graduation rate of 62 percent, the lowest among reporting states.

This week, federal education officials released a state-by-state listing of education spending, which found that Nevada ranked 44th in the nation on per-pupil spending.

Nevada is among 14 states that spend the least on education and have among the lowest graduation rates nationally.

Public education advocates have long argued that more school spending results in better student performance.

They point to states like Nevada as proof this correlation holds true.

Other groups — such as the Nevada Policy Research Institute — have contended, however, the relationship between school spending and student performance is tenuous at best.

The Sun analyzed federal education data on school expenditures and high school graduation rates and found the majority of states see a correlation between high education spending and high student performance.

Of the top half of states that spend the most on schools, 15 states — or 60 percent — are also among the top half of states with the highest graduation rates.

The following states spend the most on schools and have among the highest graduation rates: Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Two states in particular, Vermont and New Hampshire, are among the top 10 states in both per-pupil spending and the high school graduation rate.

Of the bottom half of states that spend the least on education, 14 states — or 56 percent — are also among the bottom half of states with the lowest graduation rates.

The following states spend the least on schools and have among the lowest graduation rates nationally: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Indiana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.

Two states in particular, Alabama and Nevada, are among the bottom 10 states nationally in both per-pupil spending and high school graduation rate.

Several states buck the trend.

Eight states saw incredible return on investment for their education dollars.

These states spend the least on education, but have among the highest graduation rates nationally: Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

In particular, the Lone Star State has the ninth-lowest per-pupil spending nationally but has the third-highest graduation rate in the country.

There are also several states that saw an extremely poor return on investment for their school dollars.

The following 10 states spent the most on education but have among the lowest graduation rates nationally: Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and West Virginia.

In particular, Alaska spends $16,663 per student — the fourth-highest in the country — but has the fourth-lowest graduation in the country.

CORRECTION: The original story left out information for Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota. They have been added to this story. | (July 18, 2013)

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  1. I believe the biggest coorelation is percentage of single parent homes.

    States with a significantly lower percentage of single parent homes have much higher graduation rates.

    You will not have a large number of states that will break that coorelation (unlike what is listed above) and it is regardless of money spent on education.

    Some states have significant transient populations like Nevada. It is harder to properly collect graduation rates in those states.

  2. I am glad we are looking at reasons other than teachers.

    In his book, "Ignoring Poverty in the U.S.: The Corporate Takeover of Public Education," P.L. Thomas established a correlation between poverty and educational success. He posited that....

    "Children ...deserve better schools, and children in poverty remain the exact students most underserved in those schools. No one is suggesting that education reform be set aside or ignored. But many current school reform policies are simply wastes of taxpayers' money and educators' time that would be better spent on education reform that addresses the conditions of teaching and learning, and not just more of the same standards-and-testing mandates tried for 30 years."

    "More pressing is social reform because without addressing childhood poverty, workforce stability and quality, the costs of living, single-parent homes, and concentrated high-poverty communities, most education reform measures are doomed to be fruitless."

    "As The Economic Mobility Project reveals, children ... across the United States are likely to have bright futures if they are born into relative affluence, and those children, even without attending college, are apt to succeed over impoverished children who rise above the challenges of their homes and communities by graduating college."

    "Grit" and "no excuses" are simply slogans, hollow and cruel in the bright light of the evidence.

    "If kids count in the United States, and I am not sure they do, political leadership will change the course of education reform and begin a commitment to social reform that attends to the needs of the growing numbers of impoverished, working poor, and working class families who populate the country, and thus, depend on public education."

    High-stakes testing, the new Core Curriculum, and teacher evaluation, among other 'reforms' are expensive and they are far removed from addressing the more immediate and more profound barriers to educational success.

    Surely, our leaders know this, but what is preventing them from taking actions to address these children's needs?


  3. Values influence student performance, and yes, poverty can impede an otherwise bright and gifted child from realizing the American Dream. Without access to mental health care IN schools, it is a 50/50 proposition as to a child and family's success. All decision-making starts with the MIND-set, how a person thinks. For too long, the system has thrown billions of dollars at education without achieving the desired results. What has been missing? Mental health care access to children and their families.

    NPRI is a political entity that has an agenda attacking public education. Privatizing education will only create more stress on the class status of those in America's society. What happens to those who can NOT perform to standards due to disabilities in NPRI's world? The corporate culture within NPRI would only benefit by building more prisons.

    Right now you can affect education by contacting your political representative in Washington, D.C., and make your voice heard as they vote on the KLINE BILL. If you would like some perspective, look at Diane Ratvich's Blog online, which describes it in layman's terms. Thank you!

    Blessings and Peace,

  4. NPRI is a political entity that has an agenda attacking public education. Privatizing education will only create more stress on the class status of those in America's society. What happens to those who can NOT perform to standards due to disabilities in NPRI's world? The corporate culture within NPRI would only benefit by building more prisons.

    When the statistics don't match NPRI's desired message they just lie. They have been caught in hundreds of lies and yet they continue to exist and continue to lie. They are VERY well funded by billionaire donors to lie.

  5. Quoted from NPRI website:

    "The Institute was founded in 1991 by Judy Cresanta, shortly after she returned from a trip to the Soviet Union...

    In the Soviet Union, ...the concepts of personal rights and freedoms were unheard of, while property rights and the principles of ownership were found incomprehensible.

    Upon returning to Nevada, Judy reflected on the widespread lack of understanding of the principles of freedom that existed even here at home. Resolving to make a difference, she founded the non-profit Nevada Policy Research Institute for the purpose of providing private, freedom-friendly solutions to public problems."

    The Soviet Union was, and in many respects is, still a communist country. Personal rights and freedoms, as well as property rights and principles of ownership were incomprehensible. Of course! Those are elements of communism, which is a farce because the oligarchs own vast properties. The common masses were fooled to think that property was communal. While the masses suffer from shortages in food and other personal items, the oligarchs were living in luxury. So, what else is new about the rich and powerful and the poor?

    So Judy founded NPRI to propagate what Americans already enjoy? The American dream has been in our blood since the founding of our nation! What it has become now is the few rich and powerful making the dream into a nightmare! Americans are trying to survive and needed to support each other against these oligarchs and yet, NPRI makes it its business to silence them? Is that what it calls 'freedom-friendly solution?' I don't think there is anything freedom-friendly about picking a fight with a professional association!

    Is that what Judy envisioned really? Joecks justified his actions as "information needed to be put out there..." Really? Lame, lame, lame.

    How about telling the public that your masters really want to bust unions because they don't want anyone else to be in the upper 2%. Or, how about we want to bust public education so we can control it and get the billions being spent on it?

    You see, not all people are as easily hoodwinked as NPRI thinks. Oh, yes, many of them are --- those who believe and support NPRI!

  6. Teacher unions are the worst thing for public education.

    They will block all reforms.

    All they want is money, money and money.

  7. When we take all funding sources, not merely State funding, Nevada ranks in the mid-20's for per pupil spending in CCSD. Yet we are LAST IN RESULTS. Perhaps much of the disparity is that we OVERPAY TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS--too much in compensation as a portion of funding and too little into the class room, supplies, text books....

  8. Blind, are we, posters? "Seven States saw incredible return on investment for their education dollar." And, "The following eight states spent the most ... but have among the lowest graduation results. Perhaps if teachers could obtain some serious improvement in RESULTS, people might consider continuing funding instead of OPTING FOR OTHER K-12 forums: Charter schools, private schools, home schools, online with the FUNDING FOLLOWING THE STUDENTS right out of public K-12.

  9. Roberta:

    I usually just ignore you because it seems as though you don't understand. I will try one last time:

    The problem with children not learning is NOT just teachers. Some children, no matter how much teaching or how well the teaching goes, HAVE DIFFICULTIES LEARNING OR RETAINING WHAT HAS BEEN TAUGHT because they are NOT healthy mentally, physically, emotionally. Two of the main reasons for this is POVERTY and familial challenges. This has been proven by many many studies, a few of which have been published in this forum. In Nevada, poverty and familial challenges are really high.

    Any reforms you direct, including kicking teachers in the gut, as you always do, DO NOT work. WE have to MAKE KIDS HEALTHY FIRST.

    Please understand that. People In this column have explained this in so many ways. You can understand this time, can you?

  10. M. Agustin: There has ALWAYS BEEN POVERTY and broken families. Those kids (me included) did very well in K-12 with minimal funding, 35 kids per grade school class room.... You seem to lack reading comprehension yet you accuse me? You have NOT ADDRESSED my point of 7:26. Numerous areas with excessive spending per pupil do NOT GET RESULTS.

  11. Guaranteed income for teachers who refuse to teach? Stop dumping $3.7 Billion a year when non-certified "teachers" would get better results.

  12. End tenure and contracts. Let "teachers" earn their keep. No results, no jobs.

  13. You forgot the culture during your time and today's.

    Familial challenges, moral values, the proliferation of violence and filth in TVs, computer games, movies, and even in neighborhoods, drugs, and indifference. Children telling teachers to f..k off because they know many without education making millions selling drugs, pimping, etc. If you were a teacher, what do you recommend?

    Add to that children coming to school without a goodnight sleep, dinner, or breakfast. Do you think the Boston Tea Party, or even how to sound the alphabet matter to these kids? How do you teach those children about anything else with the Common Core Standards hanging over your heads, administrators breathing down your neck, and the time constraints of testing to be done every week.

    Yes. Billion dollars spent on Common Core Standards, the professional development required to implement them, and the materials that go along with implementation is wasted money. Add to that the money spent in making sure teachers' evaluation add ease to their firing and many other reforms that have nothing to do with filling Johnny's physical and emotional hunger would be all for naught.

    All your hatred for teachers will not solve education problems. It's way beyond your narrow perceptions and bigotry.

    Please read P.L. Thomas' book I mentioned in my earlier post. Oh, and there are more. If you have time, read them. It may help you understand teachers' position better.