NPRI testimony on Gov. Sandoval’s education spending plan

Victor Joecks

Hello, my name is Victor Joecks, and I’m with the Nevada Policy Research Institute.

I was glad last week to hear Sen. Michael Roberson address what should be the most obvious question: Why has decades of spending increases not led to increases in student achievement?

For context, here is what Nevada’s Legislative Counsel Bureau has found regarding Nevada education spending. Adjusted for inflation, per-pupil spending was $4,854 in 1983. In 2011, our per-pupil spending was $8,781. So our inflation-adjusted, per-pupil spending has nearly doubled while Nevada’s graduation rate fell under 50 percent.

I was disappointed that the answer to Sen. Roberson’s question was just an emphasis on the problems Nevada’s students are facing. It’s because of the those problems that it is imperative that the legislature not believe that money plus good intentions will increase student achievement.

As an aside, school choice is the proven solution.

The best example of this is class-size reduction. While Nevada has spent $2.8 billion on this program, in 2013, just 27 percent of Nevada’s 4th graders were proficient or better on the NAEP fourth grade reading test.

Last week, Supt. Dale Erquiaga even acknowledged that there is no correlation between class size and star rankings.

I ask you to consider the effectiveness of the money Nevada is already spending before assuming this new spending will help Nevada students.

I also encourage this committee to look at students/teacher ratios. Last week, Supt. Erquiaga said there are 25,000 teachers in Nevada with 450,000 students. That’s a student to teacher ratio of 18 to 1. Why are classes being reported at 40 to 50 to 1? Where are the other teachers?

Thank you for your time, and I’d be happy to answer any questions.