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Spending May Not Matter In States’ Graduation Rates

By Maura Pennington
for The Pennsylvania Independent

Spending May Not Matter In States' Graduation RatesHARRISBURG PA —In Pennsylvania and neighboring states, there seems to be little connection between school spending and graduation rates.

Census data from 2013 shows Pennsylvania spent a little more than $13,500 per pupil during the 2011-12 school year.

According to a new report published Monday (April 28, 2014), Pennsylvania has a statewide average high school graduation rate of 84 percent. For black or Hispanic students, it’s 68 percent. For Asian or white students, it’s 89 percent. Economically disadvantaged students graduate at a rate of 74 percent, while 64 percent of English language learners complete high school.

Spending May Not Matter In States' Graduation Rates

School spending and graduation rates for Pennsylvania and neighboring states show little connection

Maryland spent virtually the same amount of money on each student as Pennsylvania and came out with the same average graduation rate: 84 percent.

Meanwhile, Ohio spent about $11,200 and had a graduation rate of 81 percent. New York spent close to $19,000 and had an overall graduation rate of 77 percent. New Jersey spent $16,000 and graduated 86 percent of its high school students.

Delaware spent $1,000 less on each student than Pennsylvania and had a graduation rate of 80 percent. There, however, 74 percent of black or Hispanic students graduated; 93 percent of Asian or white students.

The nationwide average graduate rate is 81 percent.

Of course, this information comes with caveats: There is more to graduation rates than how much money is spent in schools, and statewide summaries can hide discrepancies in local spending and outcomes.

Graphic from The Pennsylvania Independent

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