Education

Study ranks NC public schools 40th in nation, citing insufficient funding

Posted January 23, 2018 5:30 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 1:41 p.m. EDT

— A new study has ranked North Carolina's public schools 40th in the nation on a national report card, citing insufficient funding as one of the reasons.

Education Week's annual "Quality Counts" survey features national and state-by-state grades, data and analysis.

North Carolina was ranked in the top 20 as recently as a decade ago. But after a recession and deep budget cuts, the rankings slid. Although the economy has come back, whatever education funding the state has restored is not keeping up with other states.

In Education Week's 2018 survey, North Carolina's schools received a C- overall grade. That's below the national average of C and one place lower than last year. The survey looked at dozens of factors, from employment rates and household education levels to student performance on standardized tests and how much funding schools get.

For chance of success after graduation, North Carolina ranked 31st, a C+. Student achievement was 33rd in the country, a D+. On school funding, North Carolina came in 45th, a D.

Legislative leaders are working on an overhaul of how the state funds its schools. Mark Jewell, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, says they need to start with more money.

"We're 43rd in the nation in per-pupil funding. That's $3,000 below the national average. We haven't had basic supplies such as textbooks, technology, pencils, paper," he said.

House education budget writer Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, agrees the state should put more money into education but says he doesn't understand how survey authors calculated their numbers.

"Let's take every study we get seriously and learn from it. But I'm not going to let someone beat me over the head with it because it doesn't make reasonable sense. Not to say it's wrong, I'm just saying I want more information," Horn said Tuesday.

The state has been sliding in national education rankings for years, Jewell says.

"Clearly, North Carolina's not doing what it should be. Not too many years ago, we were leading the way in the Southeast, where everyone wanted to move here to put their child in a North Carolina public school, and right now, folks are looking at North Carolina and saying, 'What has happened?'" Jewell said.

The top-ranked state for schools in this year's survey was Massachusetts, and the lowest ranked was Nevada. In the Southeast, North Carolina was ranked about in the middle.