Oklahoma ranks 44th in the nation in per-pupil funding, receiving one of the sixth-lowest grades on spending for public schools, according to the 18th annual Education Week Quality Counts report.
The state earned a D in per-pupil spending, below the national average grade of C and a drop from last year's D+. Adjusted for regional cost differences, Oklahoma per-pupil expenditures were pegged at an average $9,075, well below the national average of $11,864.
Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee and Utah also got a D, and Idaho earned a D-minus, the lowest in the nation.
The District of Columbia and Hawaii were not graded because both are single-district jurisdictions.
Overall, 12 states improved in per-pupil spending, while scores fell in 35 states, the report shows. New Hampshire, North Carolina and North Dakota made the largest gains since last year. For the sixth consecutive year, Wyoming ranked first in spending, posting an A-minus. West Virginia, New York and Connecticut followed with grades of B-plus.
Oklahoma dedicates 3.1 percent of its state taxable resources to public school funding, ranking 36th in the nation in that category. The national average is 3.6 percent.
In two other categories, Oklahoma ranked 43rd in the country for chance for success and 41st in kindergarten-through-12th-grade achievement. The state received a C-minus for chance of success, down from last year's C, and a D for K-12 achievement, unchanged from last year.
The report's Chance for Success Index combines information from 13 indicators to identify strong and weak links in the role of education throughout an individual's lifetime.
The K-12 Achievement Index measures 18 criteria, such as reading and math performance, high school graduation rates, and the results of Advanced Placement exams.
State Superintendent Janet Barresi noted mild gains in narrowing the achievement gap among students in poverty and improved math and reading scores over a 10-year period.
She cited the math and reading scores used in the Quality Counts report that were released in November by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which measures the progress of the country's fourth- and eighth-graders in reading and math every two years.
But Barresi said she isn't satisfied with the state's grades in other categories.
"The grades confirm what we already knew, that we must change our approach to education. Thankfully, our state leaders have already embraced this idea and have voted in a bold slate of education reforms that will prepare our children for college and career," she said.
Those reforms are more rigorous academic standards, a law requiring third-graders to be retained if they don't read at grade level, the A-F school grading system and a teacher evaluation system, Barresi said.
"While change is sometimes painful, the dividends for our children are worth the effort. We're eager to see the improvement in our students, and consequently in this grade, once our reforms have been fully implemented," she said.
Quality Counts is the most comprehensive ongoing assessment of the state of American education.
Kim Archer 918-581-8315
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Source: 2014 Education Week Quality Counts report