In a hearing before the House Education Committee on Monday, North Dakota United President, Nick Archuleta, cited a poll last year that showed 89% of North Dakotan’s rated their schools as “Good” or “Great”. According to Archuleta, this is the highest in the nation. But are North Dakotan’s really getting the “return on their investment” that they deserve when it comes to K-12 spending?
In reflecting on the current state of education in North Dakota, I decided to do some digging into the spending side of things. In the 2009-2011 Biennium, K-12 appropriations were $1.3 Billion. Fast forward to the 2015-2017 Biennium and appropriations were $2.3 Billion.
That’s an increase of nearly 80%.
With such a significant “investment” of taxpayer dollars into the state’s K-12 public education system, one would hope that we would see improving results from our students. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In comparing the Math and Reading test results for 4th and 8th graders on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), we find no real improvements at all. In fact, we even show some slight decreases (that coincide with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards by the way).
Now, to be fair, North Dakota still appears to rank higher on the NAEP than the national averages. But we did that when we were spending nearly half of what we did in the last biennium.
In case you’re wondering about increased enrollment during this time frame, DPI’s web site shows enrollment at about 94,000 students in 2009 and about 106,000 in 2015. That’s just a 13% increase. Which means that the spending increase far exceeded the increased enrollment.
With no improvement – and some numbers going backwards – perhaps it’s time North Dakotan’s take another look and decide if they are truly getting what they’re paying for. If nothing else, one thing we can take from this is that throwing money at education won’t fix the challenges we face in educating our young people.
Here’s the charts: