Poor ROI for K-12 Schools in Michigan and the US

The United States spends more per-pupil on K-12 schooling than any other of the 34 wealthiest countries in the world except for Switzerland, but American students consistently score at or below average in reading, math and science, according to a report prepared by the Mercatus Center, a research center associated with George Mason University. In the U.S, inflation-adjusted K-12 spending tripled over the last 40 years. In 1970, it cost this country $50,000 to send a child to school for 13 years. By 2009 this had grown to $149,000.

For this analysis, the Mercatus Center used data provided by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. OECD also conducts a “Program for International Student Assessment,” which provides an international benchmark for student performance.

Michigan’s spending and results mirror the situation: In 2007 the state spent $11,337 per pupil on school operating costs — the 16th highest in the country, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. But students in this state on average rank between 33rd and 39th nationally based on 4th and 8th grade reading and math scores, based on National Assessment of Educational Progress results, considered the most reliable for state comparisons.

Other reports suggest Michigan’s academic performance is even worse compared to other states. The American Legislative Exchange Council’s “Report Card on American Education” controlled for variances in socio-economic levels between states by analyzing NAEP scores only of students who qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program. Measuring 2009 achievement scores and gains or losses made from 2003 to 2009 on the NAEP, Michigan ranked 49th out of 50 states — ahead of only West Virginia.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.