NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 11, 2004

Washington state has seen its education spending surge at close to three times the rate of inflation, yet has little or nothing to show for it, says the Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF).

Far too often policymakers focus on inputs (government expenditures) rather than outputs (school achievement). This trend has degenerated into a situation where the state spends an average of $9,454 a year per K-12 student, but has failed to generate even an adequate level of student performance.

In Washington state, researchers found that:

  • Over the last 10 years, spending on education has increased by about 32 percent in real dollars, yet just 42.5 percent of the dollars spent on education are used for "basic instruction."
  • The ratio of total teachers to students is 17 to one and the average teacher salary has reached $45,265.
  • The percentage of students failing to pass 4th grade reading, writing and math is 33 percent, 46 percent and 45 percent, respectively.
  • For 10th graders, poor academic performance is even more pervasive: 40 percent of students fail both reading and writing assessment tests, while 61 percent fail mathematics.
  • About one-third of all students fail to graduate after entering the 9th grade; among black students the dropout rates increase, with two-thirds of them failing to graduate.

Marsh Richards of EFF concludes, "more money does not necessarily mean higher achievement -- discussions about money are only meaningful when we know what we must buy to best help students learn."

Source: Marsha Richards, "Education Spending: How Much is Enough?" Evergreen Freedom Foundation, May 18, 2004.

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