Wisconsin Schools: Are We Making the Grade?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 at 4:00 PM by

A new analysis by the Wisconsin Budget Project finds that Wisconsin is no longer much ahead of the curve on school spending and staffing. Once a national leader in educational innovation and performance, Wisconsin’s investment in K-12 education has slipped significantly relative to other states over the past decade, and it now ranks near the national average on many measures of support for public education.

According to the new analysis, per-pupil instructional spending in public and secondary schools grew by 7.6% (adjusted for inflation) in Wisconsin between 2000 and 2008 (the most recent year for which data is available), a rate less than half the national average of 17.9%. Wisconsin’s rank in instructional spending per pupil dropped from 11th to 18th during that span. While Wisconsin continues to spend more per pupil than the national average, per-pupil spending here has been completely flat since 2003, while the national average has increased by 8.3%.

With support for public education trending towards the national average, it’s no surprise that Wisconsin’s student-teacher ratio is trending that way too. Wisconsin has long had a student-teacher ratio that is better than the national average, which is still true. But since the 1999-00 school year, the number of students per teacher increased by 0.3 students in Wisconsin, while the national average decreased by 0.7 students.

Read the whole analysis here.

Updated 9/1 to add: Check out a Wisconsin Public Radio interview with Wisconsin Budget Project Director Jon Peacock on this topic, or read a Superior Press-Telegram article based on our analysis.

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