Keeping Up with the Joneses

Keeping Up with the Joneses

In previous posts, we’ve compared Kansas to its peers, states outperforming us (aspiration), and states performing above expectations to a greater degree than we do (higher impact). In this post we’re going to look at our neighbors, those states adjacent to Kansas.

Of the four states adjacent to Kansas – Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Colorado – only Nebraska was identified as a peer state, a state that had student and adult populations similar to Kansas. This is important to note, because it means that though we are often compared to our neighbors, in terms of student demographics and population characteristics, we are different than most of these states. Oklahoma and Missouri have a higher percent of children in poverty. Colorado has a much larger percent of students in English Language Learner programs. Oklahoma and Colorado have much higher a percent of non-white students. Colorado has a much higher median household income. Missouri, Oklahoma, and Colorado have more population per square mile. Colorado has higher percents of adults 25 and older with Bachelor’s and Graduate degrees, and so on.  

Nonetheless, when talking about Kansas and how we compare to the rest of the nation, people frequently want to know what things are like in Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, or Oklahoma, so it is important to look and see how Kansas stacks up.

For all of the data KASB has been using for comparisons for these states, you can click here.  

In terms of student outcomes, Kansas outperforms all the adjacent states. Kansas students have better graduation rates than Colorado and Missouri, equivalent rates to Missouri, and have rates lower than Nebraska. However, Kansas has a higher percent of students meeting national assessment benchmarks than Nebraska, Missouri, and Oklahoma, with only Colorado outperforming Kansas on a majority of these measures. Taken in combination, Kansas does better than Nebraska on 9 of 14 measures, better than Missouri on 10 of 14 measures, better than Oklahoma on 12 of 14 measures, and better than Colorado on 8 of 14 measures.

In terms of spending, Kansas spends more than three of the four states (Missouri, Oklahoma, and Colorado), and less than one (Nebraska).

Kansas has fewer students per district and per staff member than two of our neighbors (Oklahoma and Colorado) and fewer students per school than three (Missouri, Oklahoma, and Colorado).

So, to summarize:
  • Kansas outperforms all of our neighbor states in terms of student outcomes.
  • Kansas spends more than 3 of 4 neighbor states.
  • Kansas has fewer students per school than 3 of 4 neighbor states.
  • Kansas’ student and adult population are only similar to 1 of 4 neighbor states.