NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Kansas K-12 Spending and Achievement Comparison

September 29, 2010

Kansas has been following the same theory for a long time in hope of improving public education: pumping more money into the same approach to achieve proficiency.  Over the last 10 years corresponding to the state's participation in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Kansans have increased per pupil spending by 79 percent, but the results have been dismal: modest improvements in mathematics, little improvement in reading ability and the majority of students still failing to perform at proficient levels.  That is a failing grade by any measurement, says John R. LaPlante, an education policy fellow with the Kansas Policy Institute.

It's also important to examine how mathematics and reading scores have changed since 2005 -- the year before the state began pumping hundreds of millions more into schools as a result of the last school lawsuit.

  • Total aid to schools jumped $1.4 billion between the 2005 and the 2009 school years ($925 million of which came from the state) but test scores are essentially flat.
  • The education lobby contends that higher spending causes achievement to rise, but a 30 percent per pupil spending hike over a four year period clearly made little difference in proficiency scores.

Continuing to follow the "more money = greater proficiency" theory would only validate Albert Einstein's definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  "Just spend more" is not the answer but there are many options that have proved successful, including charter schools and tax credits for private schools, says LaPlante.

Source: John R. LaPlante, "Kansas K-12 Spending and Achievement Comparison," Kansas Policy Institute, September 2010.

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