Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Can More Money Fix America's Schools?

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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for your consideration.gifIn April, NPR ran a story called “Can More Money Fix America’s Schools?” You can find the article here.

The article is actually a leaping-off point for NPR’s “School Money: The Cost of Opportunity” series, which can be found here.

The takeaways from the article, according to the author, are:
  • Money isn’t pixie dust. If it were, there would be no school funding debate. 
  • Money does matter - especially for low income students. 
  • Money should reach those students who need it most. 
  • For extra money to have an impact, it can’t just be a one or two year boost; it needs to be a steady increase over many years. 
  • Money needs to be focused in the classroom instead of on support costs. 
But the main point the author makes is this; the How You Spend versus How Much You Spend debate should not be a debate at all. Each depends on the other.

KASB does not necessarily agree with the notion that Kansas schools are all “broken” and need “fixing,” but we do agree that both how much is spent and how it is spent are important.

For more information, visit the links above.

Friday, May 27, 2016

It Pays to Improve School Quality

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.


for your consideration.gif
Education Next recently released an article written by Eric Hanushek and others that indicates “states that boost student achievement reap large economic gains.”  You can find the report and related resources here.  You can also find a Kansas-specific presentation in pdf or PowerPoint formats.  

The following graphic was generated on Education Next’s site, showing how the Kansas economy could improve based on improved student achievement.  


Using 2013 NAEP basic achievement levels, Kansas is ranked 11th in this article in terms of student outcomes.  This is very similar to the rankings KASB has calculated based on NAEP and other outcome measures; Kansas is typically in or just below the top ten for student outcome measures across states.


The graphic above shows the projections for how the Kansas economy would change if Kansas students achieved at the same level as the top performing state (Minnesota).  


In the article, Hanushek and his co authors come to the following conclusions:
  • “We find that state differences in student achievement and educational attainment account for 20 to 35 percent of the current variation in per-capita GDP (gross domestic product) among states.”
  • “If all states improved their schools to the point where average student achievement matched that of Minnesota, the top state, the gains in GDP would allow even the most cash-strapped state to meet demands for public services and maintain a balanced budget.”
  • “The largest gains would come from a coordinated improvement in performance - since states are all linked by flows of people over time.  But even if states act individually, they can promote a better economic future for their residents through education reform.”
  • “Realizing these gains will require a sustained commitment on the part of a state’s political leaders.  But if we are to achieve prolonged economic growth in our nation, we have no choice but to strengthen the skills of our people.”

So improving our students’ outcomes will improve our economy.  The next question we should be asking is, “How can we improve the outcomes for Kansas students?”  

Thursday, May 5, 2016

More Districts Charging for Activity Participation Since 2002

According to data gathered annually by KASB, more districts are charging students for certain components of student activities than they did in 2002.  The Calendar and Activities Survey includes questions about which type of student activity and what components of those activities are provided for students at no cost.  


The following table and graphic show the responses to these questions in 2002 compared to 2016.


(To see a two-page PDF of the above graphic, click here.)


Table:  Percent of Districts Charging for Activities

Item
Team Athletics
Individual Athletics
Spirit Squads
2002
2016
% Change
2002
2016
% Change
2002
2016
% Change
Camps
89.5%
90.5%
1.0%
93.9%
93.0%
-0.8%
79.8%
91.8%
12.0%
Laundry
54.5%
55.1%
0.6%
77.3%
72.8%
-4.5%
87.7%
81.0%
-6.7%
Meals
57.4%
79.1%
21.7%
66.4%
84.8%
18.4%
65.7%
84.2%
18.5%
Transport
1.8%
2.5%
0.7%
30.0%
20.9%
-9.1%
7.6%
5.7%
-1.9%
Uniforms
2.2%
2.5%
0.4%
36.1%
28.5%
-7.6%
30.3%
37.3%
7.0%
Item
Music Groups
Other Activities
All Activities
2002
2016
% Change
2002
2016
% Change
2002
2016
% Change
Camps
93.1%
96.2%
3.1%
93.9%
98.7%
4.9%
90.0%
94.1%
4.0%
Laundry
70.0%
74.7%
4.6%
93.1%
91.8%
-1.4%
76.5%
75.1%
-1.5%
Meals
62.5%
82.9%
20.5%
68.2%
88.6%
20.4%
64.0%
83.9%
19.9%
Transport
4.7%
3.8%
-0.9%
27.1%
22.2%
-4.9%
14.2%
11.0%
-3.2%
Uniforms
30.3%
37.3%
7.0%
80.5%
76.0%
-4.6%
35.9%
36.3%
0.4%


The majority of districts in 2002 provided uniforms and transportation at no charge for all activities except for the “other” category.  The majority of districts did charge students for meals, laundry, and camps across activities.  In addition, it seems that more districts charged for spirit squads and music groups than for individual athletics, and that more districts charged for individual athletics than for team athletics.


As can be seen, the trends in 2016 are very similar to those in 2002; the majority of districts provided uniforms and transportation at no charge for all activities except for the “other” category.  The majority of districts did charge students for meals, laundry, and camps across activities.  In addition, it seems that more districts charged for spirit squads and music groups than for individual athletics, and that more districts charged for individual athletics than for team athletics.


However, note that in 2016, the percent charging for transportation is much more equal across team athletics, spirit squads, and music groups.  Plus, the number of districts charging for meals increased approximately 20% across activities, and the number of districts charging for camps increased approximately 4%.  Conversely, the number of districts charging for transportation for activities decreased approximately 3% across activities, and the number of districts charging for laundry decreased approximately 2%, as shown in the following table. .


Overall, this data suggests:
  • The trends for charging students for activity participation have remained fairly constant over the last 14 years.
  • There has been an increase in the percent of districts charging for meals and camps related to activities.  
  • The percent of districts charging has become more consistent across activity types.  


For more on this data, visit kasb.org/research