It Pays to Improve School Quality

It Pays to Improve School Quality

The following post presents research or analyses from outside KASB and is presented for information purposes.  KASB neither endorses nor refutes the conclusions or recommendations contained herein.

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Education Next recently released an article written by Eric Hanushek and others that indicates “states that boost student achievement reap large economic gains.”  You can find the report and related resources here.  You can also find a Kansas-specific presentation in pdf or PowerPoint formats.  

The following graphic was generated on Education Next’s site, showing how the Kansas economy could improve based on improved student achievement.  

Using 2013 NAEP basic achievement levels, Kansas is ranked 11th in this article in terms of student outcomes.  This is very similar to the rankings KASB has calculated based on NAEP and other outcome measures; Kansas is typically in or just below the top ten for student outcome measures across states.

The graphic above shows the projections for how the Kansas economy would change if Kansas students achieved at the same level as the top performing state (Minnesota).  

In the article, Hanushek and his co authors come to the following conclusions:
  • “We find that state differences in student achievement and educational attainment account for 20 to 35 percent of the current variation in per-capita GDP (gross domestic product) among states.”
  • “If all states improved their schools to the point where average student achievement matched that of Minnesota, the top state, the gains in GDP would allow even the most cash-strapped state to meet demands for public services and maintain a balanced budget.”
  • “The largest gains would come from a coordinated improvement in performance – since states are all linked by flows of people over time.  But even if states act individually, they can promote a better economic future for their residents through education reform.”
  • “Realizing these gains will require a sustained commitment on the part of a state’s political leaders.  But if we are to achieve prolonged economic growth in our nation, we have no choice but to strengthen the skills of our people.”

So improving our students’ outcomes will improve our economy.  The next question we should be asking is, “How can we improve the outcomes for Kansas students?”