Kansas ranks among top performing states
To measure overall state performance, we calculate the average of the percentage of students scoring at both Basic and Proficient on the four tests (Grade 4 reading and math; Grade 8 reading and math). We then rank the average percent for each state. The results are shown in Table I near the end of this story.
National Test Results and Education Spending
At first glance, this data would seem to support the state’s claims in the Gannon lawsuit. Kansas schools are producing very high results compared to other states, while spending below the national average. Kansas also ranks very high even though most states have fewer low income, at-risk students. In fact, Kansas ranks even higher for low income students than it does for all students. Do our own achievement results indicate current funding is “suitable?” It would seem to depend on whether the status quo is acceptable or “suitable.” The Kansas Constitution mandates a system of public schools for “intellectual, educational, vocational and scientific improvement,” which the Supreme Court has said indicates the status quo is never good enough, because the people have mandated continuing improvement.
Even if the constitution itself doesn’t mandate improvement, the constitutionally elected State Board of Education has continued to set higher standards. Most critics of Kansas public schools claim educational achievement falls short of the mark. Economic data indicates Kansas must increase the percentage of high school graduates and college-ready students to meet future employment needs and provide “middle class” incomes. In addition, the testing and funding data presented above is several years old, and new national reports have indicated Kansas has further reduced spending compared to most other states.
With just two exceptions, every state with a higher percentage of all students and low income students meeting Basic or Proficient benchmarks spent more per pupil than Kansas in 2011.
Colorado, which had both lower current spending and total revenues per pupil than Kansas, ranked higher on just one benchmark (all students at Proficient). Montana had over $1,000 higher current spending per pupil than Kansas, but just slightly lower total revenue per pupil ($38, or 0.3%).
Both Colorado and Montana had far fewer low income students than Kansas. Colorado had 39.9% and Montana 41.2% students eligible for free and reduced meals, compared to 47.7% in Kansas. Colorado also had much lower achievement for low income students, ranking 22nd at Basic and 19th at Proficient – about 15 spots lower than Kansas.
Although there is no hard and fast rule for the strength of statistical correlation, many sources suggest that a positive correlation of 0.4 and above is a moderate to strong relationship, and that a correlation of 0.3 is a moderate relationship. Even a correlation above 0.2 indicates at least some relationship.