Nation’s capital has nearly the worst education system despite getting most per-student funding

By Rob Shimshock

Washington, D.C. has nearly the worst education system in the country despite getting the most per-student funding, according to a Monday study.

The District ranked 49 out of 51 in a study done by finance website Wallet Hub. Only Louisiana and New Mexico obtained lower scores.

Wallet Hub ranked the District and the 50 states by two main metrics, education quality and school security, each of which comprised a variety of other factors. D.C. ranked 49th for school quality and 48th for safety. The District achieved the highest dropout rate, lowest reading test scores, and second-lowest math test scores. While D.C. scored the lowest bullying-incidence rate, it also ranked higher than almost every state when it came to percentage of injured or threatened high school students.

Northeastern schools dominated the rankings, with Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont taking the top five spots. Massachusetts obtained a 74.16 score on Wallet Hub’s 100-point scale, while the latter four states achieved scores in the mid-60s.

While D.C. spent $25,038 per student for the 2011-2012 school year, Massachusetts only spent $16,273, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

University of Arkansas professor Sandra Stotsky made recommendations for states and districts to improve their education systems without increasing taxes.

“Eliminate all federal/state mandated tests for K-12,” Stotsky told Wallet Hub. “Use district-based teacher-made tests by subject area in high school for high school diploma.”

Another scholar, Hoover Institution fellow Paul T. Hill, criticized the Trump administration’s treatment of private schools.

“Private school choice is more polarizing that effective,” Hill said. “It will prove a dead end because good new schools will, not emerge to serve the majority of students. In the meantime, Trump and DeVos will divide the charter school movement on ideological grounds and increase its political liabilities.”

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2 thoughts on “Nation’s capital has nearly the worst education system despite getting most per-student funding

  1. There is something very curious about this perfunctory report. And it has nothing to do with the performance of the Washington D.C. schools and everything to do with Vermont’s fifth ranked performance. Consider the data sources from the U.S. News & World Report’s “Top 700 Best U.S. Schools” ranking.

    It took some digging. Here’s the methodology listed on page 7, Identifying Top-Performing High Schools Analytical Methodology.

    “Data Sources The data from the 2015–16 school year that were used to produce these rankings came from the following sources:  School-level state assessment results were retrieved from state education agency websites or directly from state education agencies.”

    If Vermont schools rank fifth best in the nation: Why, according to the data from the Vermont Agency of Education website, are only 58% of its 11th graders proficient in English, only 36% of its 11th graders proficient in Math and only 32% of its 11th graders proficient in Science? Read the reports for yourselves.

    Clearly, several of the other metrics are questionable assessments too. Vermont’s graduation rate (90%+) is one of the highest in the nation despite the poor academic performance of its 11th graders.

    Paradoxically, high per pupil spending positively affects these rankings, again, despite poor academic performance. If anything, one would think a cost/benefit ratio with lower spending should provide a higher overall ranking.

    And the 4th grade and 8th grade Math and Reading assessments are from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), are based on the testing of fewer than 5% of the student population in each grade and the tests are not mandatory. On the other hand, the Vermont Agency of Education assessments (SBAC and NECAP) referenced earlier are submitted to ALL students in each grade level.

    College readiness? While Vermont students ostensibly rank high, only 30% of Vermont graduates took the ACT exams and VT Digger reported that ‘Tests show many high-schoolers aren’t on track for college’.

    Perhaps Mr. Shimshock can explain.

    • Vermont public schools have a well deserved reputation of aggressively labeling children as “disabled.” Once these children are labeled they are no longer an inconvenience to public monopoly, as they longer count towards the all important test averages….but wait there’s a bonus, the big public education monopoly can hire more union staff to “help” these children with special programs and one on ones. Drug em up and collect the cash. Nice people.

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