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The latest NAEP scores show need for education reform

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

The results are not good - perhaps even worse than we could have expected.

On Monday, the latest numbers from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) were revealed, and they show startling drops in student achievement across grade levels and subjects. No state was spared.

There's no question COVID shutdowns played a role in this, but we should also recognize the fact that NAEP scores were dropping or flat even before the pandemic. In fact, most datapoints show that academic achievement has been trending downward, even as spending has increased. For instance, look at Idaho's uneven NAEP scores over the past 10 years.

Increasing spending on K-12 public schools hasn’t improved outcomes, nor has it increased faith in the system.

A recent study by the Reason Foundation on K-12 trends in the United States shows the amount Americans are spending per student, per year, has continually increased. In some states, the increases are staggering.

The research shows Americans spend an average of more than $15,000 per student, per year. Most of that spending increase has not been on the child, but on the increased cost of salaries and benefits for teachers and school district employees.

In some school districts, the amount spent per student will be higher, while in others it may be lower. Typically, public school funding comes from three sources: federal funds, state funds and local levies and/or bonds. The largest portion, typically, comes from the state.

In Idaho, for example, more than 50% of the state’s total general fund budget is allocated to K-12. In Washington, it is just under 50%. Montana spends roughly 35% of its budget on K-12. In nearly every state, K-12 education makes up the largest portion of the state’s budget.

However, lawmakers do have the ability to improve transparency, increase parental freedom and give taxpayers a clearer understanding of what is happening in public schools.

The time is now.

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