Report Grades NC Public Schools "D"
Special Report - November 10, 2010
Overall, North Carolina’s public school system managed to earn only a “D” on the Heartland Institute’s 2010 “State School Report Card,” which ranks states on their public school performance based on learning, efficiency, standards, and overall performance. According to the report, America’s per-pupil spending over the last quarter-century has “increased by more than 65 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars,” while American students continue to produce poor and stagnant scores on international tests.
The Report Card grades states “according to learning progress, progress in relation to spending, and state standards” based on data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), National Center for Educational Statistics, and several think tanks. North Carolina scored an “F” in “the amount of learning taking place in the state’s schools,” coming in at 47 out of 51, and in “quality of academic standards,” tying with Pennsylvania for rank 44 out of 51. Half of the states scoring an “F” in learning are located in the Southern region of the United States. Only Mississippi, Arkansas, Florida, and West Virginia fared worse. The top five states in learning were Arizona, South Dakota, Montana, Alaska, and Oregon. Massachusetts, California, and Washington led the standards rankings.
In standards, North Carolina’s ranking beat out Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Alaska, and Nebraska. The learning index is determined by the change in a state’s test scores on the NAEP between 2005 and 2009. This is an important distinction from other rankings that look at scores at a single point in time, rather than the change over time because “[s]ome states may be making exemplary progress but still be far behind other states.” The standards index is the average of two third-party rankings.
North Carolina fared much better in efficiency10th place, receiving an “A.” Hawaii, Idaho, and Utah lead the efficiency rankings, respectively, while Washington, D.C., Ohio, and Wyoming rounded out the bottom three, respectively. Washington D.C.in 49th placespends more than double per graduated student than first-placed Hawaii. This efficiency index incorporates a state’s cost per graduate, per student, per unit of learning gain over time, and per unit of learning gain between grades, as well as the ratio of teachers to staff.
Overall performance for each state is scored by averaging a state’s ranking for learning, efficiency, and standards. A high overall ranking indicates a state with “substantial learning progress at relatively low cost” and which holds itself to high standards. North Carolina only managed a “D” rating, coming in at number 38 overall. The top three states overall were Arizona, Washington, and South Dakota, while Arkansas and Virginia tied for worst with Michigan and New York not far behind at 49 and 48, respectively.
The report concludes that in order for the United States “to maintain its traditions of relative prosperity and high economic growth, more states need to follow the lead” of states like Arizona, South Dakota, Washington, Oregon, and Utah, which do the best job of “achieving learning outcomes, spending taxpayers’ money efficiently on schools, and holding themselves to high standards.” The authors admonish those states that received grades lower than an “A” for wasting taxpayer money on high-cost schools with weak standards that result in students achieving less than would be expected. In trying to answer the question, “What are the highest-ranking states doing right,” the report references a 2001 study by Jay Greene entitled “Education Freedom Index,” which “found that the greater the degree of school choice within a state, the better its achievement.” Greene’s study looked at “the percentage of charter schools in the state, the freedom of parents to send their children to schools outside their home school districts, the percentage of students enrolled in voucher programs, the size of tax credits for parents’ private school expenses, parents’ freedom to home-school their children, and the percentage of home-schooled children in the state.”
"North Carolina education bureaucrats have had decades to make adjustments to public education to achieve better results," said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. "Traditionalists have tried every theory but have refused to support lifting the arbitrary cap on the number of charter schools in the state. That is why other states have passed us by and left our education system in such need of repair. The model that works is no longer top down, but bottom up. Students are best served when parents have the best resources to meet the specific educational needs of each of their children. Charter schools have proven that they can do just that."
Charter School Checkmate- FNC - Summer 2010
Copyright © 2010. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.