Kansas is spending billions on public education, yet student assessment scores remain static. It’s a familiar story in public school systems across the country, and Atlas Network partner Kansas Policy Institute (KPI) breaks down the details of education spending, taxpayer aid, and student achievement data for its state in the 2015 edition of its annual pocket-sized K–12 Public Education Factbook. It serves as an easy-access reference book for policymakers and the public.
Since the 1997–98 school year, there has been a 100 percent increase in state, federal and local taxpayer support for public education in Kansas, but only about half of 11th grade students in Kansas can fully comprehend grade-appropriate reading material. Furthermore, superfluous spending is failing to help those who need the most assistance — low-income students. At-risk aid has risen to about $400 million per year, a roughly 60 percent increase since 2005. Yet the percent of low-income fourth-grade students who can proficiently read at grade level has remained around 20 percent since 1998.
“We compiled this Fact Book because scientific surveys show that citizens are grossly misinformed on many pertinent facts of public education in Kansas,” KPI writes in the Factbook introduction. “Aid and spending per-pupil are much higher than many Kansans believe and student achievement is lower than understood. Many Kansas students are doing quite well but thousands of students each year are falling behind, and a false sense of high achievement is a tremendous barrier to getting them the help they need.”
KPI is an independent and non-profit organization that is at the forefront of the education reform debate in Kansas. Its mission is to produce relevant and reliable research, focused on economic and educational freedom in Kansas.