Another study found Arizona’s education system woefully underfunded, with the Grand Canyon State clocking in at 50th place out of 50 states and Washington, D.C., for adjusted per-pupil education spending.
The Quality Counts report by Education Week gave Arizona’s education system an overall grade of D-plus, putting the state in 46th place based on a variety of factors intended to gauge performance in three categories: chances for education success, school finance and K-12 achievement.
The annual study is the 21st conducted by Education Week, and it shows Arizona lags behind the national average in all three categories, especially educational funding. Arizona’s D-plus ranking has remained steady since 2015. Only Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico and Oklahoma scored worse than Arizona overall. Massachusetts scored the highest with an overall grade of B-plus. The national average was a C grade.
The study took into account a wide variety of data points, including family income, parent education, preschool and kindergarten enrollment, elementary reading scores, middle school math scores, high school graduation rates and employment after graduation, along with federal data on school spending. The ranking is based on 2015 spending figures, the most recent year federal data was available, and reflects spending numbers adjusted to account for regional cost differences.
Despite Arizona’s overall low funding, the state earned relatively high rankings for equitable spending, clocking in at 27th in the nation for spending equity across school districts. The spending gap between highest and lowest-spending districts in Arizona is $2,961, compared to the national average of $4,776, according to the report. Overall, Education Week gave the state a grade of D-minus in the category of school finances.