Oregon Ranks 38th Out of the 50 States
Oregon ranks low in education; flat test scores, low funding, growing disparities to blame
The Oregonian / OregonLive – January 7, 2016
Oregon schools rank in the bottom third nationally, as measured by Education Week researchers. The Oregonian/OregonLive also estimates the state deserves a No. 38 performance ranking. The state’s weak financial contribution to schools, measured as the percent of state gross domestic product devoted to K-12 schools, is a significant factor.
A new study ranks Oregon No. 38 in public education, based on student achievement, school funding and a broad mix of other factors such as parental employment and the availability of affordable preschool.
The strongest findings, based on rankings by the education news organization Education Week:
Oregon ranks high for:
> Spending close to the same amount per student in different districts (No. 14)
Oregon ranks low for:
> Growing gap between poor and not-poor students’ reading and math scores (No. 49)
> Improvement in reading and math achievement since 2003 (No. 45)
> Adults who work full time and year-round (No. 50)
> Percent of taxable wealth spent on education (No. 42)
> Increase in eighth-graders with advanced math skills (No. 49)
> Share of students for whom school funding is at or above the national average (No. 38)
source: Education Week
>> Oregon is making little progress or heading in the wrong direction when it comes to raising elementary and middle school reading and math achievement. Progress for high achievers in math is at a standstill.
>> Oregon is allowing low-income students to fall further behind their better-off counterparts faster than 48 other states. Compared to 2003, in 2015 Oregon’s low-income fourth- and eighth-graders were 9 percentage points further behind their more-prosperous peers. Only Washington had a worse increase in the achievement gap separating the two groups.
>> School funding, or rather the lack of it, helps put Oregon in the educational basement. Given each state’s gross domestic product, only four states had a lower effective tax rate for K-12 education: Arizona, North Carolina, and North and South Dakota.
>> Partly as a result of low taxes for education, Oregon had very few students attending schools that were funded at or above the national per-pupil average. Just 13 percent of Oregon students enjoyed that level of funding, versus 42 percent of students nationally.
Each year, Education Week grades states for the quality of their public schools in a report it calls Quality Counts. Although the grading methodology has “evolved” from year to year, this year’s grades were calculated almost the same as last year’s, said Holly Yettick, director of the Education Week Research Center.
Oregon’s overall grade this year was a C-, based on its student achievement (D), school finance (C-) and conditions for success (C ).
As has been the case for many years, Massachusetts was the top-ranking state for education. Nevada ranked last this year.