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Spending up, Michigan test scores, public school enrollment remain low

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(The Center Square) – Despite more spending on public education, test scores remain flat in Michigan, according to a recently released report.

The free market-focused Reason Foundation released its Public Education at a Crossroads study, analyzing the lack of correlation between increased spending and improved test scores in American schools between 2002 and 2020.

While Michigan student test scores, regardless of socioeconomic level, have remained largely the same, the state’s per-student spending has dramatically increased over the past 20 years. The study uses the National Assessment of Education Progress scores to compare student progress at a federal level.

The Reason Foundation study found that regardless of state, teacher salaries had grown the least out of all funding categories. Non-teaching staff grew by 20% average across all states, far outpacing the average student enrollment increase of 6.6%. Education funding as a whole had increased in all states except North Carolina.

Michigan had a 10% increase in education spending from 2002 to 2020, from $14,518 to $15,967. Today, Michigan ranks 21st in education spending per pupil.

The state spent $5,056 in student support services in 2020, up 3.7% since 2002. The state ranks 19th in support service spending but is 49th in growth. Spending on instruction per pupil increased by 7.4%. Capital outlay, which includes construction expenses and infrastructure repairs, actually decreased by 27.2%.

Michigan’s per-student debt growth is 32nd in the nation, at 19.8% higher than in 2002. At $15,377 per student, the state has the sixth-highest educational debt.

Public school enrollment decreased by 13.6%, far below the national increase of 6.6%. Michigan ranked 48th in public school enrollment.

In conjunction with the loss in student enrollment, total teachers decreased by 14.2%, and non-teaching staff by 7.7%.

Michigan’s average teacher salary decreased by 16.4% since 2002, from $76,064 to $63,568. While the salary growth rate is 49th in the nation, salaries remain 15th highest.

The study found Michigan’s average reading scores decreased, with fourth-grade math scores remained the same, and eighth-grade math scores improved by 4%. While per student spending has increased by more than 10% since 2002, all test scores have remained relatively the same, with minor fluctuations per year.

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