NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 28, 2007

Connecticut leads the nation in average teacher salary ($58,700) and is third in per-pupil spending ($11,000).  Yet according to the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the state has the nation's largest achievement gap between poor and non-poor students, says the Wall Street Journal.

According to NAEP (which measures reading and math skills):

  • Not only are low-income students falling further behind in Connecticut than anywhere else, but the state's overall ranking is also down.
  • Since 2005, Connecticut has lost ground to other states in three of the four NAEP categories; in fourth-grade math, it's fallen to 16th from 9th and in eighth-grade math, it's fallen to 29th from 20th.
  • The state ranking for Hispanic students declined in all four categories; for blacks, it fell in all but one category.
  • Eighth-graders in Connecticut who qualify for free or reduced price lunches had the second-lowest math scores for poor students in the United States.

Some Connecticut lawmakers, egged on by the teachers unions, will doubtless use these results to argue for throwing still more tax dollars at education, says the Journal.  But a better option would be public charter schools.  Such schools in Connecticut regularly outperform traditional public schools, and do so on significantly smaller budgets:

  • Hartford's lone charter school, Jumoke Academy, receives $8,000 per student from the state, while surrounding public schools receive $13,600 per kid.
  • On the most recent state assessment test, 60 percent of Jumoke's students scored proficient in math, 70 percent scored proficient in reading and 95 percent scored proficient in writing.
  • The corresponding results for the surrounding public schools were 22 percent, 30 percent and 27 percent, respectively.

Source: Editorial, "Money for Nothing," Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2007.

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