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August 28, 2015

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Analysis finds correlation between high education spending, high graduation rates

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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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