Wednesday, October 21, 2015

KIDS Count Data shows Kansas trends similar to Nation

“After numerous years of depressing economic news, many positive trends signal that the economy is finally recovering from the deep recession. Job growth and consumer spending are up, while unemployment is down. Nonetheless, there are warning signs that the recovery may be leaving the lowest-income families behind, disproportionately affecting workers of color and their children.”

So begins the narrative for the 2015 KIDS Count Data Book, produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  The annual report gathers state-level statistics from many sources and produces overall ratings for each state and the nation. Some of the national trends highlighted in the report are listed below, followed by the information for Kansas.  

  • Worsening Nationally and in Kansas
    • The percent of children in poverty has increased from 18 percent in 2008 to 22 percent in 2013 nationally, and from 15 percent to 19 percent in Kansas.
    • The percent of children whose parents lack secure employment increased from 27 percent in 2008 to 31 percent in 2013 nationally, and from 22 percent to 24 percent in Kansas.
    • The percent of children not attending preschool increased from 53 percent in 2007-09 to 54 percent in 2011-13 nationally, and from 54 percent to 56 percent in Kansas.
    • The percent of children in single-parent families increased from 32 percent in 2008 to 35 percent in 2013 nationally, and from 28 percent to 30 percent in Kansas.
    • The percent of children living in high poverty areas increased from 11 percent in 2006-10 to 14 percent in 2009-13 nationally, and from 6 percent to 9 percent in Kansas.  
  • Improving Nationally and in Kansas
    • The percent of children living in households with a high housing cost burden decreased from 39 percent in 2008 to 36 percent in 2013 nationally, and from 28 percent to 27 percent in Kansas.
    • The percent of fourth graders not proficient in reading decreased from 68 percent in 2007 to 66 percent in 2013 nationally, and from 64 percent to 62 percent in Kansas.
    • The percent of high school students not graduating on time decreased from 25 percent in 2007-08 to 19 percent in 2011-12 nationally, and from 21 percent to 11 percent in Kansas.  
    • The number of teen births per 1,000 decreased from 40 in 2008 to 26 in 2013 nationally, and from 44 to 30 in Kansas.  
  • Differing Trends
    • The percent of teens not in school and not working was constant at 8 percent between 2008 and 2013 nationally, but increased from 5 percent to 6 percent in Kansas.
    • The percent of eighth graders not proficient in math decreased from 69 percent in 2007 to 66 percent in 2013 nationally, but remained constant at 60 percent in Kansas.
    • The percent of children in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma decreased from 16 percent in 2008 to 14 percent in 2013 nationally, but increased from 11 percent to 12 percent in Kansas.

Overall these results show Kansas follows national trends in most cases, but in the cases where Kansas differs from the national trend, Kansas is moving in a more negative direction. This data suggests more effort needs to be put into addressing the topics listed under differing trends above if the goal is to make sure Kansas follows national trends.  

For more information on Kansas’ data, be sure to check out the fact sheet prepared by Kansas Action for Children.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

WalletHub ranks Kansas 9th for Teachers

The following post presents research or analyses from outside KASB and is presented for information purposes. KASB neither endorses nor refutes the conclusions or recommendations contained herein.
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WalletHub is a site for “information consumers and small business owners need to make better financial decisions and save money.” Some may recall that Governor Brownback’s statement that Kansas’ Education System ranked 5th in the nation was based on its annual rankings (the 2015 version of this report ranks Kansas at number 12).  


WalletHub recently released a report entitled 2015’s Best and Worst States for Teachers, in which they ranked Kansas 9th in the nation. The rank is a combination of two others:  a “Job Opportunity and Competition” rank of 23 and an “Academic and Work Environment” rank of 7.  


The Job Opportunity and Competition rank is based on the following measures, and was weighted twice as much as the Academic and Work Environment rank:


  • Average Starting Salary for Teachers (adjusted for cost of living)
  • Median Annual Salary for Teachers (adjusted for cost of living)
  • Teachers’ Income Growth Potential
  • Projected Number of Teachers per 1,000 Students by Year 2022
  • Unemployment Rate
  • 10-Year Change in Teacher Salaries (measures change in constant dollars for teacher salaries between the 2003–2004 and the 2013–2014 academic years)


The Academic and Work Environment rank was based on the following measures:


  • WalletHub “School Systems” Ranking
  • Pupil-to-Teacher Ratio
  • Safest Schools (percentage of public-school teachers who reported that they were threatened with injury by a student from school during the previous 12 months)
  • WalletHub “Underprivileged Children” Ranking
  • Public School Spending per Student (measures annual state and local expenditures for K-12 public schools per capita)
  • Average Commute Time
  • WalletHub “Working Moms” Ranking


The report does not provide each state’s ranks on these measures, but it does note that Kansas ranked 3rd lowest for pupil-to-teacher ratios.  


The report also included several experts’ answers to the following questions:


  1. What are the biggest issues teachers face today?


Responses include evaluation based on student performance, condition of school facilities, the need for better training, and restrictions based on standardized testing and policy.


  1. How can local officials attract and retain the best teachers?


Responses include improving work conditions, housing assistance, ample class prep time, supportive mentorship, and provide an active role in decision making.


  1. What tips can you offer young teachers looking for a place to settle?


Responses include considering district stability, ask other teachers, and avoid states pushing charters and vouchers.


  1. Are unions beneficial to teachers? What about to students?


Responses to this included positive things like protecting rights, advocating for fair compensation, and negative things like making it difficult to remove ineffective teachers and preventing school leaders from making productive changes.

For more information, check out the report here.