Category Archives: Schools K-12

50-State Comparison: State Kindergarten-Through-Third-Grade Policies

Source: Louisa Diffey, Education Commission of the States, June 4, 2018

High-quality, early elementary years offer a critical opportunity for development and academic learning for all children. Key components of a quality, K-3 experience include kindergarten, qualified teachers, seamless transitions, appropriate assessments and interventions, family engagement, social-emotional supports and academic supports. Education Commission of the States has researched the policies that guide these key components in all 50 states to provide this comprehensive resource. Click on the questions below for 50-State Comparisons, showing how all states approach specific policies, or view a specific state’s approach by going to the individual state profiles page.

Key Takeaways
– Seventeen states, plus the District of Columbia, require children to attend kindergarten, although the length of day varies across states.

– Thirteen states, plus the District of Columbia, require the district to offer full-day kindergarten.

– Eighteen states, plus the District of Columbia, have policies in place to guide the transition from pre-K to kindergarten. This guidance often includes written transition plans, family engagement, teacher/provider meetings and assessment data linkages.

– Forty-two states, plus the District of Columbia, detail the interventions available to K-3 students, often including extended instructional time, parental engagement, evidence-based instruction, summer reading opportunities and small group instruction.

– Twenty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia, have retention policies in place, which are designed to support students who are not on grade level by the end of third grade.

– Forty states, plus the District of Columbia, emphasize social-emotional learning in K-3 in statute, rules or regulations. Usually, social-emotional learning is emphasized in kindergarten entrance assessments, school readiness definitions and/or teacher training requirements…..

Which States Spend the Most Money on Their Students?

Source: Stephen Wheeler, U.S. Census Bureau, America Counts: Stories Behind the Numbers, June 2018

In 2016, public elementary and secondary schools across the nation received $353.2 billion in state and federal revenue, most of which goes into expenditures such as teacher’s salaries, transportation and other associated expenses.

So who’s spending the most on their students?

American Attitudes Toward Teacher Pay and Protests

Source: Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, April 2018

The April 2018 AP-NORC Poll asked 1,140 adults their views on teacher pay and recent protests advocating for more school funding.

​On April 19, 2018, teachers in Arizona voted to walk off the job to demand increased school funding, joining the movement for higher teacher pay that began in February in West Virginia and has spread to Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Colorado. In a recent survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 78 percent of Americans say teachers in this country are underpaid, but fewer approve of walkouts by teachers to demand pay raises and increased school funding.

Fifty-two percent approve of teachers striking to protest low teacher pay and school funding cuts, while 25 percent disapprove and 22 percent neither approve nor disapprove. But who is to blame when teacher labor unrest disrupts students’ education? Americans say there is plenty of blame to go around. ….

…. Seventy-eight percent of adults say public school teachers get paid too little for the work that they do, 6 percent say they get paid too much, and 15 percent say they get paid the right amount. Still, only 50 percent would support a plan to increase their taxes in order to increase teacher compensation and funding for their local public schools, while 26 percent would oppose such a plan, and 23 percent neither favor nor oppose. ….

Related:
Most Americans believe teachers have the right to strike
Source: Ipsos/NPR survey on the public’s views of teachers, April 26, 2018

A recent survey conducted on behalf of NPR shows that just one in four Americans believe teachers in this country are paid fairly. Furthermore, three-quarters agree teachers have the right to strike, including two-thirds of Republicans, three-quarters of independents and nearly 9 in 10 Democrats. 

Though nearly two-thirds approve of national teachers’ unions, an equal number (63%) agree that teachers’ unions do make it harder to fire bad teachers. Half of Americans (51%) agree that teachers’ unions improve both the quality of education and teachers, though these two questions vary based on party affiliation. Two-thirds or more of Democrats agree that teachers’ unions improve the quality of education and teachers, compared to less than half of Republicans…..

HPU Poll: NC Republicans and Democrats Agree on Education Issues
Source: March 7, 2018

…. Teacher pay raises: Majorities of North Carolinians also say that public school teachers are paid too little (85 percent) and claim that they would be willing to pay more in taxes so that North Carolina school teachers could be paid at the national average within five years (73 percent). In fact, large majorities of Democrats (72 percent), Republicans (72 percent), and unaffiliated (76 percent) residents of North Carolina say they would pay more in taxes for such a teacher pay raise. ….

New polls find most Americans say teachers are underpaid — and many would pay higher taxes to fix it
Source: Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, June 1, 2018

Teachers Find Public Support as Campaign for Higher Pay Goes to Voters
Source: Dana Goldstein and Ben Casselman, New York Times, May 31, 2018

Pressure on states to increase K-12 education funding will continue

Source: Pisei Chea, Nicholas Samuels, Emily Raimes, Timothy Blake, Nadia Morelos, Moody’s, Sector In-Depth, June 4, 2018
(subscription required)

Public demand to increase K-12 education funding has grown in many states, a reaction to years of restrained spending in this area since the 2008-09 recession. Between fiscal 2002-07, total K-12 funding from federal, state and local sources increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.8%, then slowed to a CAGR of 1.8% from 2009-16 despite the economic recovery. The slowdown was driven by declining federal funding, slow state and local tax revenue growth, and generally more austere policy priorities in some state capitals. Teachers in a handful of states have recently organized walkouts to demand higher teacher salaries and increased education spending. States have significant flexibility to adjust their budgets to meet policy demands, especially as tax revenue growth has strengthened in the past year; willingness to do so varies, however, and states will continue to be pressured to balance K-12 spending with other program demands.
….

Before It All Melts Away

Source: Chris Brooks, Labor Notes, May 30, 2018

Will this spring’s wave of teacher strikes lead to stronger unions? Not if their unions return to business as usual.

The motor force behind the strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina is teachers’ deep frustration. Educators are feeling the pinch from decades of funding cuts that their unions have been unable to stop…..

When Teachers Strike, Support Staff Has the Most to Lose

Source: Madeline Will, Education Week, May 29, 2018

The national spotlight on the strikes and walkouts this spring has been on the teachers themselves. But in the shadows was another group that’s just as critical for keeping schools running: support staff.

Often overlooked in the broader public discourse, these workers, including instructional aides and paraprofessionals, sometimes had more at stake in the walkouts than full-time teachers. When schools were closed, many didn’t get paid.

The Plight of Teacher Salaries Is Traceable to a Few Key Developments

Source: Gary Burtless, Real Clear Markets, May 23, 2018

In recent months teachers in five states have struck for better pay or benefits. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the five states—Arizona, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and West Virginia—spend less than the national average on each pupil enrolled in public schools. They pay their teachers substantially less than the nationwide average salary, which in the 2015-2016 school year was $58,064. More importantly, teachers in all five states saw the purchasing power of their salaries shrink over the first six years of the economic recovery. In this they were hardly alone. Public school teachers in 39 states saw their real wages fall between 2009 and 2015. Teachers in Arizona, Oklahoma, and West Virginia suffered wage losses of 9 percent or more.

The plight of teachers is traceable to a couple of developments. The electoral success of conservatives has shifted political control in many statehouses to officeholders who are determined to hold down spending, including on the public schools. The economic recovery may have lifted state and local revenues in the great majority of states, but frugal lawmakers in many of them have kept public spending in check, sharply cutting state aid to local schools in the early years of the economic recovery….

School Spending Per Pupil Increased by 3.2 Percent, U.S. Census Bureau Reports

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Press Release, Release Number: CB18-TPS.28, May 21, 2018

The amount spent per pupil for public elementary-secondary education for all 50 states and the District of Columbia increased by 3.2 percent to $11,762 during the 2016 fiscal year, according to new tables released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The increase in spending in 2016 was due in part to the increase in revenue across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In 2016, public elementary-secondary education revenue, from all sources, amounted to $670.9 billion, up 4.6 percent from the prior year. This is the largest increase since 2007.

Other highlights include:
Of the 50 states, New York ($22,366), the District of Columbia ($19,159), Connecticut ($18,958), New Jersey ($18,402) and Vermont ($17,873) spent the most per pupil in 2016. California (9.8 percent), Washington (7.4 percent), Hawaii (7.0 percent), Utah (5.8 percent) and New York (5.5 percent) saw the largest percentage increases in current spending per pupil from 2015 to 2016. To see the top 10 school districts by current spending per pupil, see the graphic Top 10 Largest School Districts by Per Pupil Current Spending.

Within public school systems, Mississippi (14.6 percent), Arizona (13.8 percent), South Dakota (13.5 percent), New Mexico (13.5 percent) and Montana (12.4 percent) received the highest percentage of their revenues from the federal government, while public school systems in New Jersey (4.1 percent), Connecticut (4.2 percent), Massachusetts (4.4 percent), New York (5.1 percent) and Minnesota (5.3 percent) received the lowest.

Schools See Steep Drop in Librarians, New Analysis Finds

Source: Sarah D. Sparks and Alex Harwin, Education Week, May 16, 2018 | Corrected: May 17, 2018

American schools—particularly those serving black and Latino students—have seen a precipitous drop in their school librarians since the Great Recession.

The nation’s public school districts have lost 20 percent of their librarians and media specialists since 2000, from more than 54,000 to less than 44,000 in 2015, according to an Education Week Research Center analysis of federal data. Many districts lost librarians even as student populations grew by 7 percent nationwide. For example, over the past decade in Denver public schools, student enrollment increased by 25 percent, but the number of librarians decreased by 60 percent. ….

…. The evidence is building that the loss of school librarians could put schools at a disadvantage academically. For example, two studies of national and Colorado-specific data suggested that losing a school librarian was associated with lower 4th grade reading scores while gaining one was associated with higher scores. A meta-analysis of 34 statewide studies also suggested that schools with high-quality library programs had higher reading test scores and, for high schools, graduation rates. ….

Related:
School Librarian, Where Art Thou?
Source: Keith Curry Lance, School Library Journal, March 16, 2018

Behind the teacher strikes that have roiled five states – Why non-union states have seen the most unrest

Source: The Economist, May 5, 2018

From a block away, the striking teachers camped out around Arizona’s capitol at first looked like a solid sea of red, the colour of their T-shirts and tents. On closer inspection, they distinguished themselves the way the teachers have always distinguished their classrooms—with handmade signs. Leah Falcon (“Arizona exports: Cotton, copper, teachers”), who teaches middle-school maths, said she was “fighting because my kids deserve better than 34 students in a class.” Megan Marohn (“Arizona Spending per Student: $9,000. Per Inmate: $24,000”) is a classroom aide and lifelong Republican who frets that Arizona’s Republican legislature and governor “put the value of corporations above students”. Jay Bertelsen (“Christian Non-Union Conservative Teacher Fighting for Funding”) has taught computer science outside Tucson for 25 years; his children qualify for Arizona’s state-subsidised health care for poor families.

Grievances such as these have motivated teacher strikes in five states. They look likely to continue—galvanising public-sector workers in states where Democrats hope to make gains in this autumn’s midterm elections. ….