Kansas ranks ninth among the 50 states on a weighted average of 15 educational indicators, based on the most recent national data.
Kansas has higher outcomes than the average of all states on all 15 indicators but provided about $1,500 per pupil less in total funding than the U.S. average in 2017, and $500 less per pupil when adjusted for regional cost of living differences.
Kansas also outperformed groups of “peer” states similar to Kansas in terms of student and adult population demographics and urban/rural distribution; and provided less average funding per pupil than those states.
This is the fourth year KASB has prepared this report using these criteria. Kansas ranked 10th in 2016 and 2017 and ranked 9th in 2018 and again this year. For all four years, all other states in the top 10 provided more total per pupil funding in both actual dollars and adjusted for regional cost of living differences.
The “Comparing Kansas” report allows Kansas to be compared with those states with higher overall achievement rankings, the average of all states and adjacent states boarding Kansas. In addition, KASB annually determines “peer states” which are most similar to Kansas in terms of student characteristics, adult population characteristics and population distribution, and a combination of all three.
What are the top-level findings in the new report?
Kansas has better overall educational outcomes than the U.S. average on all indicators, and exceeds similar states on almost all measures.
In ranking ninth overall, Kansas has higher student outcomes than the average of all 50 states on each of the 15 indicators. Kansas also has higher outcomes than the average of 17 overall peer states on each of the 15 indicators. (See list of peer states below.)
Kansas also has higher overall outcomes on all 15 measures than the average of adjacent states, adult peer states, and population distribution peer states.
Kansas has higher outcomes in 13 of the 15 indicators compared to the average of student peers, has lower performance on one indicator (percent of 18-24-year-olds with a bachelor’s degree) and is tied on one (percent of non-low-income students at proficient on NAEP).
Generally, Kansas has the greatest lead over other states in percent of 18-24-year-olds with some college or higher, graduation rates for Limited English Proficiency students and students with disabilities, and students at basic levels on NAEP.
Kansas is closer to other states on 18-24-year-old high school completion and bachelor’s degree completion; all students and low-income student graduation rates, and percentage of students at proficient on NAEP.
Kansas provides less total per pupil funding that the U.S. average and less than all groups of similar states except adjacent states.
While Kansas outperforms the U.S. average and similar groups of states on almost all measures, Kansas per pupil spending is lower. Kansas ranks 30th in the nation on adjusted total revenue per pupil. Even when adjusted for regional costs differences using the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Price Parities, Kansas ranks 25th and provides total funding over $500 below the average of all states.
Kansas provides less funding per pupil than the average of each peer state group, both in actual and adjusted dollars. Kansas per pupil spending only tops the average for adjacent states.
Each of the eight “aspiration” states with higher overall performance spend more per pupil than Kansas, an average of more than $5,400 in actual dollars and nearly $3,800 per pupil when adjusted for state cost-of-living differences.
Sixteen other states with lower performance rankings than Kansas but spend more per pupil when adjusted for regional cost differences.
Using Comparing Kansas data
This approach allows Kansas education outcomes to be compared to performance in other states and to identify what can be learned from those states that do better. By considering funding data, the relationship between financial support and outcomes can be explored, as well as which states get the best results for the funding provided and how those dollars are used.
The 15 educational outcome measures used for this report are in three areas:
- Educational Attainment by 18-24-year-olds based on the percent completing high school, with any postsecondary education, and with a four-year degree.
- The four-year adjusted cohort Graduation Rate for all students, low income students, students with disabilities and English Language Learners – basically, the percentage of students graduating high school “on time” within four years of entering high school.
- National assessments for Basic Skills and College Readiness.
- For basic skills, results from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) is used for the percentage of students meeting two benchmark levels – basic and proficient – and for three student groups (all students, low income students eligible for free and reduced-price meals, and non-low income students not eligible for meal support.
- For college readiness, the percent of students meeting all four college-ready benchmarks on the ACT and the percent of students meeting both college- ready benchmarks on the SAT. Both the ACT and SAT ranking is adjusted based on the percentage of high school graduates tested, because states with high participation on each test tend to have lower results.
To produce the final results, state rankings on each of these 15 outcomes are weighted to each of the three major categories (young adult educational levels, high school graduation rates and test scores are given equal weight).
KASB uses these multiple measures to provide the best assessment of overall state performance. Each has strengths and limitations.
Adult educational attainment is the most accurate measure of student success because completing high school then receiving additional postsecondary education strongly correlates with higher income, lower unemployment and lower poverty for individuals and states. Simply put, most jobs being created require more than high school, and high-paying jobs require higher levels of education. However, this data measures most students in the six years after leaving the school system when performance can be influenced by many other factors, and is not available for subgroups.
Graduation rates show the percentage of students who have competed the highest level of attainment offered by school districts, a level that is now required by about 90 percent of jobs and most postsecondary training programs. The data is also available for various subgroups, so it shows how students do with more challenging students. However, graduation requirements are not uniform across states.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress measures student knowledge of reading and math skills at two levels. “Basic” may be seen as a minimum standard, perhaps considered “passing” or “grade level” mastery. “Proficient” is a more advanced level, indicating a student is “on track” for college-level work. It also reports results by different subgroups. However, NAEP is only given to a small sample of students (“several thousand” according to KSDE); only at fourth and eighth grade in reading and math, and only given every two years. While the same test is given in each state, it does not reflect differences in state curriculum standards, and measures students on a single test on a single day. Many educators, parents and policy-makers have criticized that approach as too narrow.
Finally, the ACT and SAT tests measure student academic preparation for college, but states vary widely in how many students are tested by each. As a result, it is much more difficult to fairly compare states. KASB attempts to correct for this by comparing each state’s actual ranking with what would be expected based on the percent of graduates tested.
For more information, find the full report here.
Overall peer states: Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Student peer states: Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Adult peer states: Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington.
Population distribution peer state: Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Adjacent states: Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma.