The States That Spend The Most And Least On Each Student

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5. Wyoming
> Total Elementary-Secondary Spending: $1.3 Billion (3rd least)
> % Revenue From State Sources: 57% (14th most)
> Amount Spent Per Pupil: $14,572 (5th most)
> High School Graduation Rate: 72.5% (17th lowest)

Wyoming, the least populous state in the country, has the smallest student body in the country, with just under 87,000 children enrolled in its public schools. Of the $14,572 spent in 2009 on education, Wyoming spent more per student than any other state on staff support, which includes things like curriculum development, staff training, and audio/visual equipment. Meanwhile, the state spent the least per student on salary for the board of education and superintendent’s office. For a state that spends the fifth most per pupil, Wyoming has subpar results in education, with the 20th best scores in math and a graduation rate of just over one in four, putting it in the bottom third among states.

4. Vermont
> Total Elementary-Secondary Spending: $1.3 Billion (4th least)
> % Revenue From State Sources: 89% (the most)
> Amount Spent Per Pupil: $15,175 (4th most)
> High School Graduation Rate: 89.6% (2nd highest)

Like Massachusetts, Vermont is one of the states considered to have the highest quality of public school education in the country. State 8th graders scored third best in both mathematics and reading in 2009, and the state’s graduation rate of 89.6% is the second best in the nation. Of the $1.5 billion in revenue intended for Vermont’s education system, 89% comes from state taxes – by far the most in the country and well more than the U.S. average of 47%. Just 5% comes from local taxes compared to a national average of 44%. The state spends more than $1,000 per pupil on the principal and other administrative staff, the most of any state. According to the Burlington Free Press, Governor Peter Shumlin’s proposed budget calls for a $23 million cut in education, all but $4 million of which will be accounted for by a temporary increase in federal aid.

Click Image To See Larger Chart of NCES Math Scores

Source: U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, 2009 8th grade Math Proficiency exams

3. Alaska
> Total Elementary-Secondary Spending: $2 Billion (8th least)
> % Revenue From State Sources: 63% (7th most)
> Amount Spent Per Pupil: $15,551 (3rd most)
> High School Graduation Rate: 72.6% (11th lowest)

Of the state’s $15,511 spent in 2009 per student, nearly a third of that money – $4,953  – went to fringe benefits like group health insurance, workers compensation, and retirement coverage. The nearly $5,000 spent per pupil is the most in the country, and easily more than double the national average of $2,263. Alaska has an inefficient system despite spending the third most in the country per student.  Its 8th graders scored 30th and 39th in math and reading, respectively. The state also has a graduation rate of 72.6%, the 11th lowest in the country. According to the Fairbanks Daily News, the state is in the final year of a three-year trial of state-funded Pre-K education.

2. New Jersey
> Total Elementary-Secondary Spending: $23.4 Billion (5th most)
> % Revenue From State Sources: 41% (10th least)
> Amount Spent Per Pupil: $16,271 (2nd most)
> High School Graduation Rate: 85.3% (6th highest)

Only 4% of New Jersey’s education budget comes from the federal government, with revenues evenly split between the state and local governments. The state spends the second most per pupil in education, more than $16,000.  Recently, the state’s supreme court ruled $500 million in education cuts made last year were illegal because they deprived poor districts of the ability to provide a decent education to their students.

1. New York
> Total Elementary-Secondary Spending: $50.6 Billion (2nd most)
> % Revenue From State Sources: 46% (24th least)
> Amount Spent Per Pupil: $18,126 (the most)
> High School Graduation Rate: 73.6% (12th lowest)

New York spends more than $18,100 per student on education each year, more than any other state in the country. To put this in perspective, the state’s budget includes approximately $12,500 per pupil spent on teacher salaries and benefits. This amount alone is more than the entire education budgets per student of all but a handful of states. Despite this massive amount of funding, the state is an abysmal 31st in the country in both math and reading scores, and the graduation rate of 76.3% is the 12th lowest in the country. According to MSNBC, in response to the release of these statistics, Gov.Andrew Cuomo stated that New York’s system would need to be evaluated, and that a powerful teacher evaluation system was needed. He said: “Only in government do you spend money regardless of results. In the real world, you buy something, you spend money, you expect something in return…”

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