More Education Money Is Not the Answer
According to Providence Business News’s Alyssa Foley, Rhode Island is precisely the middle of the country when it comes to student performance, and its reform efforts don’t encourage those who grade such things:
Rhode Island came in at No. 25 in student performance in a ranking of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Meanwhile, the Ocean State’s education reform policies earned a “D” grade on the A to F grading scale, according to ALEC’s Report Card on American Education: K-12 State Performance, Progress, and Reform.
It’s interesting to place the results in the light of this interactive map of per-pupil spending by state, presented online by the National Science Foundation. At $13,453, Rhode Island has the sixth highest spending in the nation. By contrast, ALEC’s number 2–ranked state, Massachusetts, spends $12,857, while the number 3 Florida spends $8,567, and the number 4 New Hampshire spends $11,037. Vermont, however, does outspend Rhode Island, with $13,629, and ranked number 1 in performance.
Turning to ALEC’s own interactive map of student performance, there does not appear to be much (if any) correlation between per-pupil spending and performance ranking. I should also note that the cost data does not include “school construction and other capital outlays, debt service,” or (it appears) teacher retirement costs. It would be interesting to see what effect inclusion of those factors would have on state rankings. I suspect it wouldn’t help Rhode Island.