2016 K-12 Spending Data

The U.S. Census Bureau has released new K-12 per-pupil spending data for the 2016 fiscal year, allowing for an update on our previous post which looked at state spending and education performance across the 50 states.

Our friends at the Empire Center produced an interactive chart displaying the new data here, which shows the year over year increase in each state’s per-pupil spending:

2016 Rank State 2015 2016 % Change
1 New York $21,206 $22,366 5%
2 District of Columbia $19,396 $19,159 -1%
3 Connecticut $18,377 $18,958 3%
4 New Jersey $18,235 $18,402 1%
5 Vermont $18,039 $17,873 -1%
6 Alaska $20,172 $17,510 -13%
7 Wyoming $16,055 $16,442 2%
8 Massachusetts $15,592 $15,593 0%
9 Rhode Island $15,179 $15,532 2%
10 Pennsylvania $14,717 $15,418 5%
11 New Hampshire $14,697 $15,340 4%
12 Delaware $14,120 $14,713 4%
13 Maryland $14,192 $14,206 0%
14 Illinois $13,755 $14,180 3%
15 Hawaii $12,855 $13,748 7%
16 North Dakota $13,320 $13,373 0%
17 Maine $13,257 $13,278 0%
18 Minnesota $11,949 $12,382 4%
19 Nebraska $11,946 $12,299 3%
20 Ohio $11,637 $12,102 4%
- United States $11,392 $11,762 3%
21 Michigan $11,482 $11,668 2%
22 Washington $10,735 $11,534 7%
23 California $10,467 $11,495 10%
24 Wisconsin $11,375 $11,456 1%
25 Virginia $11,237 $11,432 2%
26 Montana $11,028 $11,348 3%
27 West Virginia $11,359 $11,291 -1%
28 Iowa $10,944 $11,150 2%
29 Louisiana $11,010 $11,038 0%
30 Oregon $10,442 $10,842 4%
31 Missouri $10,147 $10,313 2%
32 South Carolina $9,953 $10,249 3%
33 Kansas $10,040 $9,960 -1%
34 Kentucky $9,630 $9,863 2%
35 Indiana $9,687 $9,856 2%
36 Arkansas $9,694 $9,846 2%
37 Georgia $9,427 $9,769 4%
38 New Mexico $9,752 $9,693 -1%
39 Colorado $9,245 $9,575 4%
40 Alabama $9,128 $9,236 1%
41 South Dakota $8,937 $9,176 3%
42 Texas $8,861 $9,016 2%
43 Nevada $8,615 $8,960 4%
44 Florida $8,881 $8,920 0%
45 Tennessee $8,726 $8,810 1%
46 North Carolina $8,687 $8,792 1%
47 Mississippi $8,456 $8,702 3%
48 Oklahoma $8,082 $8,097 0%
49 Arizona $7,489 $7,613 2%
50 Idaho $6,923 $7,157 3%
51 Utah $6,575 $6,953 6%

Because there can be a tremendous difference in the value of a dollar between states, we will use the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ 2016 Regional Price Parities (RPP) report to adjust the dollar amounts to reflect the different price levels between states.

So while New York’s actual per-pupil spending was $22,366, that falls to $19,348 (displayed in the chart below) after accounting for the state’s significantly above average price levels. Likewise, the $8,960 spent by Nevada rises to $9,199 after adjusting for the Silver State’s below average price levels.

Finally, the RPP-adjusted chart will also include each state’s 2016 K-12 Achievement score from Education Week’s Quality Counts report, which “scores states based on 18 distinct achievement measures related to reading and math performance, high school graduation rates, and the results of Advanced Placement exams.”

2016 K-12 per-pupil spending, adjusted by 2016 RPPs, alongside respective 2016 K-12 Achievement rank and score as calculated by Education Week’s Quality Counts report

State Per-Pupil Spending K-12 Achievement Rank K-12 Achievement Score Spending vs U.S. Average Achievement Score vs U.S. Average
New York $19,348 27 70.6 64% -0.4
Vermont $17,592 4 78.8 50% 7.8
Connecticut $17,441 12 73.3 48% 2.3
Wyoming $17,003 22 71.2 45% 0.2
Alaska $16,613 43 65.6 41% -5.4
District of Columbia $16,531 47 63.1 41% -7.9
New Jersey $16,256 2 81 38% 10
Pennsylvania $15,669 10 74.6 33% 3.6
Rhode Island $15,594 23 71 33% 0
Delaware $14,684 35 67.9 25% -3.1
North Dakota $14,615 34 68.1 24% -2.9
New Hampshire $14,485 3 79.4 23% 8.4
Massachusetts $14,465 1 85.2 23% 14.2
Illinois $14,338 21 71.2 22% 0.2
Nebraska $13,590 19 71.6 16% 0.6
Ohio $13,552 26 70.7 15% -0.3
Maine $13,494 15 72.4 15% 1.4
Maryland $12,974 5 76.8 10% 5.8
West Virginia $12,889 49 62.8 10% -8.2
Minnesota $12,699 6 75.9 8% 4.9
Michigan $12,506 42 65.6 6% -5.4
Iowa $12,361 29 70.3 5% -0.7
Wisconsin $12,345 9 74.6 5% 3.6
Louisiana $12,210 48 62.8 4% -8.2
Montana $12,060 28 70.5 3% -0.5
United States $11,762   71    
Hawaii $11,611 33 69 -1% -2
Missouri $11,523 36 67.6 -2% -3.4
South Carolina $11,350 46 64.4 -4% -6.6
Arkansas $11,330 40 66 -4% -5
Kentucky $11,233 16 72.3 -4% 1.3
Virginia $11,175 7 75.8 -5% 4.8
Kansas $11,006 41 66 -6% -5
Washington $10,933 14 73.2 -7% 2.2
Indiana $10,915 8 75.3 -7% 4.3
Oregon $10,864 37 66.4 -8% -4.6
Alabama $10,665 45 64.6 -9% -6.4
Georgia $10,607 20 71.2 -10% 0.2
South Dakota $10,392 44 65.2 -12% -5.8
New Mexico $10,356 50 61.8 -12% -9.2
Mississippi $10,072 51 60 -14% -11
California $10,048 30 69.3 -15% -1.7
Tennessee $9,767 17 72 -17% 1
North Carolina $9,672 32 69 -18% -2
Texas $9,304 24 70.9 -21% -0.1
Colorado $9,296 18 71.8 -21% 0.8
Nevada $9,199 38 66.2 -22% -4.8
Oklahoma $9,098 39 66.1 -23% -4.9
Florida $8,947 11 73.9 -24% 2.9
Arizona $7,938 25 70.7 -33% -0.3
Idaho $7,696 31 69.2 -35% -1.8
Utah $7,146 13 73.2 -39% 2.2

Source: 2016 Census data, adjusted by 2016 Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Regional Price Parities report, and Education Week’s 2016 Quality Counts report.

Even after adjusting for purchasing power, New York still spent 64 percent more than the national average while ranking 0.4 percentage points below the national average in achievement.

The results for Florida, by contrast, are simply stunning. Despite spending 24 percent less than the national average, Florida boasts one of the top performance rankings in the nation.

The fact that Florida has the most expansive school choice programs of any state in the nation is almost certainly a contributing factor to their success.

This is consistent with both economic theory and the majority of academic research that has found introducing competition into education will boost performance, while costing taxpayers less.

Following Florida’s lead is the most viable, cost effective and surest way to finally improve Nevada’s education system.


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