Kansas schools still rank high, but concerns have arisen

Kansas ranks 10th in the nation in overall student outcomes while ranking 29th in spending per pupil, according to Kansas Association of School Board’s 2016 State Education Report Card.

But while the state’s education rank remains high, Kansas has slipped in some key areas, according to the Report Card, which provides analysis of years of data and information.

Although Kansas has improved on most education measures, declines in national fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math tests raise concerns.

“This report is an early warning that Kansas can’t be complacent about our historically high levels of achievement,” Mark Tallman, KASB’s associate executive director, said Friday.

“If the state wishes to retain its high rank—and improve it to truly lead the world in the success of each student—policymakers and other leaders must acknowledge the role funding plays in educational achievement levels not only in Kansas but nationwide,” he said.

Each state that ranks higher than Kansas spends more per pupil. In addition, 37 states have increased school funding more than Kansas since 2008. During that period, Kansas teacher salaries have not kept pace with most other states, dropping from 38th in 2008 to 41st in 2014.

Improving student success is crucial to helping Kansas students compete in the modern economy. KASB hopes policymakers will use the report when devising a new school finance system.

The Report Card also shows:

• Kansas school districts spend a higher percentage of operating funds on instruction than most states.

• From 2008-14, Kansas ranked 38th in percent of funding changes and that increases have not kept up with inflation and badly trailed increases received by states ranked ahead of Kansas.

• Kansas districts spent a higher share of operating funds on instruction than any comparison group.

• Kansas has one of the lowest pupil-teacher ratios in the country.

• Kansas improved high school completion and postsecondary participation, but other states improved faster.

You can find the Report Card and other documents online at kasb.org/ReportCard2016.