What WalletHub rankings say about Kansas school quality and funding

What WalletHub rankings say about Kansas school quality and funding

Among the most asked questions about Kansas public schools
are: How good are they? How much does money matter in school quality? How
efficiently are Kansas schools using the money they have?

The latest report
from the personal finance website WalletHub provides an independent assessment
of Kansas education. It confirms much of what has already been documented by
KASB’s research and other independent studies: Kansas ranks in the upper tier
of states for K-12 education; higher achieving states are better funded, and
Kansas schools are efficient, getting high returns for the money spent.

Kansas ranks high in educational quality

In the 2018 WalletHub report just released, Kansas was
ranked 15th in “overall quality of school system.” That compares to a rank of
ninth in the latest KASB Comparing Kansas report, which will be released in
full later this summer.
There are important similarities and differences between
methodologies used by KASB and WalletHub. KASB uses 15 measures of educational
attainment, including graduation rates, national test scores and young adult
educational attainment. WalletHub uses more subjective measures, some
“inputs” like pupil-teacher ratio and teacher licensure, and several
school safety measures. Details are provided below.
Despite these differences, WalletHub’s method ends up quite
similar to KASB’s results. There is a statistically very strong correlation of 0.816 between
KASB’s Comparing Kansas ranking and WalletHub. (1.0 is a perfect, one-to-one positive
correlation; 0.0 is no correlation.) 

both reports indicate Kansas has been slipping. In 2014, WalletHub ranked
Kansas fifth in the nation,
although it is not clear if the same measures were applied. Likewise, KASB’s
report has found that most states have been improving faster than Kansas on the
15 indicators used in the Comparing Kansas report. 

Top-ranked states provide more funding per pupil than low ranked states 

On average, the top achieving states in both KASB and
WalletHub’s rankings spend more per pupil than low-achieving states. In fact,
there is a generally consistent pattern that state educational rankings decline
as per pupil funding declines, when looking at average spending by each group
of ten states ranked from 1 to 50.

This information supports the conclusion of both Kansas
educational costs studies and new national research that additional funding supports
improved school outcomes.
Kansas uses education resources efficiently. 

If education efficiency is characterized by good results for
the money spent, Kansas is an “overachiever,” ranking relatively high while
spending relatively low. The chart below from the WalletHub report shows Kansas
grouped with seven other states as “Low in spending and strong school system.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Public Education
Finances report for 2016, the most recent year available, Kansas ranked 30th
in total revenue per pupil than Kansas. Of the 14 states ranked ahead of Kansas
by WalletHub, only one, Colorado, provided less total funding. Of the eight
states ranked ahead of Kansas on KASB’s report, none provided less total

This information is consistent with the most recent Kansas
educational cost study, conducted this Spring by Dr. Lori Taylor and others,
which found Kansas to have one of most efficient school systems the researchers
had reviewed.
Here are links to a summary
of recent Kansas education cost studies and a report
on the impact of funding on state student outcomes. 

How WalletHub and KASB use data to rank state school

WalletHub uses the number of schools in the U.S. News and
World Report designation of the top 700 schools in the U.S., adjusted for state
population, and the number of U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon schools
per capita. KASB does not use this data. 
WalletHub looks at High School Graduation Rate Among Low-Income Students, Projected High
School Graduation Rate Increase Between 2017-2018 and 2031-2032 School Years,
and Dropout Rate. KASB uses graduation rates for all students, low income
students, students with disabilities and English Language Learners.
use National Assessment of Educational Progress test scores in reading and math
for all students. KASB used NAEP scores at both the basic and proficient
benchmarks for all students, low income students and non-low income students. (NAEP
tests a small sample of students in grades four and eight.) 
uses the share of 2017 High School Class Scoring “3” or Higher on Advanced
Placement Exam. KASB does not use AP tests.

considers the state’s median SAT Score and ACT Score, share of High School
Graduates Who Completed ACT and/or SAT, and the Division of SAT and ACT Results
by Percentile. KASB includes the percent of students testing scoring college
ready on all four ACT benchmarks, the median SAT score, the percent of students
tests by ACT and SAT, and the state’s ranking in ACT and SAT scores compared
the expected rank based on percent of students tested. 

uses Pupil-Teacher Ratio and Share of Licensed/Certified Public K–12 Teachers
by state. KASB uses only educational outcomes in its ranking.
Finally, 20
percent of WalletHub’s ranking comes from 10 school safety factors, KASB does
not include non-academic measures. 

State Rankings