Topeka The so-called "65 percent solution" doesn't add up, according to a new study.
Nationwide, there is a movement to require that 65 percent of funds spent on public schools go into classroom instruction.
Kansas lawmakers adopted the proposal earlier this year as a goal. The average district in Kansas pumped 60 percent of school funding into the classroom, the same as the national average.
But an analysis of test scores in Kansas and nine other states found a lack of evidence linking higher student achievement with higher proportional classroom spending levels, according to a recent report by Standard & Poor's School Evaluation Services.
Increasing classroom resources is a "laudable goal," the report said. But the report concluded "no minimum spending allocation is a silver bullet solution for raising student achievement."
The report looked at school district budgets, how much they spent on classroom instruction and compared that with state reading and math proficiency rates.
It found that students in some districts that spent below the 65 percent on classroom instruction scored well, while students in some districts that spent above the 65 percent level didn't perform as well.
The report said local issues could affect the need to vary classroom instructional spending from one district to another.
Earlier this year, after adopting the 65 percent goal, some legislators said the figure was problematic because there was debate about what should be counted as funds for classroom instruction.
One of the Senate's leading education members, John Vratil, R-Leawood, said the Standard & Poor's report did not surprise him.
He said he had never been a fan of the 65 percent initiative because it didn't count as classroom instruction the cost of school counselors, librarians, nurses, and, of course, administrators.
"These people are not window dressing. They are important to educational performance," Vratil said.
A House leader on education, Rep. Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, said the study seemed to support his view that there had been no conclusive evidence that showed a connection between funds spent on education and student performance. Vratil disagreed, saying, "Money does matter up to a certain level."
But O'Neal defended use of the 65 percent goal, saying it seemed to make sense that the state should try to make sure more funds go into the classroom. "That makes for a better learning experience for students," he said.
More about school finance
- Webcast of live arguments before the Kansas Supreme Court (requires Windows Media Player)
- Brief of the Montoy suit (.pdf)
- Timeline of events in school finance lawsuit
- 6News video: School finance bill to face court
- Plaintiffs: School finance bill fails grade (06-13-06)
- State wants high court to dismiss school suit (06-02-06)
- Legislature approves school finance plan (05-10-06)
- Chat with Bob Corkins, Kansas Education Commissioner (02-02-06)
- House roll call on $148.4 million school finance plan (07-07-05)
- Supt. Weseman's contingency plan (07-06-05)
- More about school finance »
- Conference Committee on Senate Bill 549
- House bill info
- Senate bill info
- Kansas public schools cost study
- Kansas public schools cost study executive summary
- Public Education Finances 2004 (.pdf)
- Senate roll call on $148.4 million school finance plan
- Supreme Court's Show Cause Order (07-02-05)
- Supreme Court's Order Denying Extension (.pdf)
- Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 1603 (.pdf)
- Supplemental Note on Resolution No. 1603 (.pdf)