Recent Reports Draw Attention to School Finance Systems in Colorado and the United States
Two reports released in the last month highlight recent expenditures on K-12 education across the country. Both draw attention to Colorado’s low standing in the area of school finance compared to other states.
Colorado spent roughly $9,000 per student in the 2014-15 school year, $2,030 less than the national average per student, according to a report released by the National Center for Education Statistics (see page 48). Only nine states spent less per pupil than Colorado. NCES’s annual report tracks both revenues and expenditures of states, breaking down the costs of instruction, administration, operations, transportation, food, and other support services.
Another report, Education Week’s 2017 Quality Counts report card, shows that six of the eight states that the NCES report identified as having spent the most per student received the highest school quality rating, while many of the states that spent the least per student ranked at or near the bottom. Education Week’s annual rankings are a respected barometer of school success that take into account education finance, “chance for success,” and K-12 achievement.
In the school finance category, Colorado received a D score, ranking 40th in the nation. The school finance category measures things such as equity, the wealth neutrality score, and the McLoone index. Despite its abysmal school finance rating, Colorado finished 25th among the 50 states in the nation with grade of C. This is in part because of the state’s B score in the “chance for success” category (12th in the nation). This category includes measures such as family income, parent education, parental employment and access to early childhood education to name a few. For K-12 Achievement, Colorado finishes 18th with a grade of C-minus.
Colorado’s 2018 Highlights Report includes summarized results based on each of the 40 indicators that make up the Quality Counts overall grading rubric.