With advocates increasingly looking at school finance and funding reform issues, a recent report from EdWeek ranking states on school spending could serve as a valuable resource.
Quality Counts 2018 is a three-part study that grades each state on their respective work when it comes to education funding. The first installment released in January provided a topline grade for each respective state. The second installment, which was released recently, takes a deeper dive into the initial topline results, providing some additional insight into the key grading factors and separate indicators of each respective state’s performance on equity and overall spending.
Results were compiled using the most recently available federal data from 2015, and overall they indicated a much higher grade for equity than for overall spending. Nationally, schools got a B-grade (86.5) for equity, while only managing a D-minus (62.3) for overall spending. But on both indicators, results by state varied widely.
When it comes to overall funding, there were only three states that scored high enough to receive an A-grade: Alaska, Vermont and Wyoming. Compare this to the 26 states that received an F and it paints a very bleak picture that advocates cannot ignore. Facing rising costs and shifting priorities, lawmakers are forced to recognize a ever-increasing hole in state budgets when it comes to education spending.
While results overall tend to show improvement when it comes to equity, a closer look at the data still reveal a wide disparity in equity across districts in many states. Seven states received an A-grade on measures of finance equity, including Florida, which led the way scoring a 92.4. Alaska was the sole state to score less than a B, coming in at 73.6, largely because of a massive $22,000 difference between the highest and the lowest spending districts.
To dig deeper into the results on a state-by-state basis, check out the full results.