A recently released study sheds a new light on quality education.
The study examines 25 relative metrics diverging from two core areas: safety and quality.
Those involving quality included Blue Ribbon schools per capita, graduation rates, dropout rates, median SAT and ACT scores, pupil-teacher ratio and more.
Safety metrics included share of high school students with access to illegal drugs, share of threatened or injured students, students participating in violence, bully incidence rate, youth incarceration rates and more.
How did Florida fare? Perfectly average. Of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, we ranked 26th in the nation.
Here’s the core breakdown:
• 17th – Math test scores
• 9th – Reading test scores
• 30th – Pupil-teacher ratio
• 46th – Median SAT score
• 39th – Median ACT score
• 49th – Percent of licensed/certified public K–12 teachers
• 37th – Dropout rate
• 3rd – Bullying incidence rate
• 39th – Percentage of threatened/injured high school students
Massachusetts ranked No. 1 overall, with 74.16 points, followed by New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia, Minnesota, Maryland, Wisconsin and Colorado.
The worst school system is New Mexico, with a score of 31.53. It was preceded at the bottom of the list by Louisiana, District of Columbia, Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, Mississippi, Alabama, Oregon and West Virginia.
Massachusetts received the No. 1 ranking both in quality and safety. West Virginia was 51st in quality and 47th in safety. Iowa had the lowest dropout rate in the country; District of Columbia had the highest.
Massachusetts had the highest math scores; Louisiana the lowest. Massachusetts led the nation in reading scores as well; District of Columbia had the lowest.
Illinois led the country in highest median SAT scores; the District of Columbia was at the bottom of the pile (Florida ranked 46th). The highest median ACT score went to Connecticut; Nevada was last.
Massachusetts showed the lowest percentage of threatened or injured high school students. Louisiana was last.
The lowest bullying incidence rate was District of Columbia. Arkansas was highest. Florida had the third lowest incidences of bullying, which makes our Hope Scholarships for bullying victims even more curious than they are on their face.
What does all this mean? We are not completely sure, but we can’t help but wonder how the metric might have been influenced if funding per student was added to the mix.
The July 31 edition of “Education Week” just released the 2018 funding breakdown for the nation. Vermont spends $20,795 per student per year. Utah is last with $7,207. Florida spends $9,737. The national average is $12,526. All figures are adjusted for regional cost differences.
We know throwing money at education isn’t necessarily a fix. But starving it, as is the case in Florida, certainly heightens the problems.
A version of this editorial first appeared in the Ocala Star-Banner, a News Herald sister paper with GateHouse Media.