New report rates Kansas system low spending with strong schools

WalletHub, a personal finance website, ranked Kansas 20th in the nation in its 2019 report on states with the best and worst school system, and rated Kansas among eight states with “low spending and strong publicschool systems.” 

Earlier this summer, KASB released its annual Comparing Kansas report, which ranked Kansas 9th based on a weighted average of 15 educational measures of student success, including national reading and math tests, ACT and SAT results, graduation rates and young adult educational attainment. 

The WalletHub rankings use a different methodology, including not only “outcomes” like test scores but factors such as class size, teacher credentials and various school safety measures. Ranking Kansas 20th overall, the report also ranked Kansas 18th in “quality” and 16th in “safety.” 

However, like the KASB Comparing Kansas report, the WalletHub data found the highest performing states tend to provide more funding per pupil. Of the 17 states WalletHub ranks higher than Kansas, all but two (Kentucky and Colorado) provided more total revenue per pupil than Kansas in 2017, the most recent year federal data is available. In KASB’s state ranking, all eight states ranking above Kansas provided higher funding per pupil. 

The WalletHub report also cited research that “more resources — or taxes paid by residents — typically result in better school-system performance.” 

Although the report noted the general link between higher funding and higher quality, some states (including Kansas) have relatively higher results with lower spending; some spend more with lower results. The 2019 WalletHub report places Kansas with Colorado, Iowa, South Dakota, Indiana, Kentucky, Utah and Wisconsin as states with strong school systems and low spending. 

Both KASB research and other studies, such as the 2018 cost study commissioned by the Legislature in addressing Kansas school finance case, have found the Kansas school system to be “efficient” when comparing funding to outcomes.  


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