Education Week report

Education Week ranked Wyoming's schools sixth best in the country.

Wyoming may be small, but its schools pack a punch.

That's according to Education Week, a publication that reports on schools across the country. The final part of its 2019 Quality Counts report pitted the states' educational systems against each other in a number of categories, and Wyoming ranked near the top in some. 

For school finance, a measure of how much the state spends on education, Wyoming ranked first, with high levels of spending per student and equity in spending across school districts. Wyoming's school foundation program guarantees each district a certain amount of money based on some complicated formulas, essentially sending money from more affluent districts to poorer ones.

Wyoming was given a score of 92.8 out of 100 for school finance — an A — while the national average was a C.

The scores were a bit more mixed in the other categories. Wyoming outpaced the nation, just barely, in K-12 student performance. The state scored about average in terms of students' actual performance in school, but its marks in educational equity regarding socioeconomic gaps boosted its overall score.

It ranked ninth in the gap between affluent students and low-income ones, meaning that the gap was smaller than in most states. The state's scores in the final major category, chance for success, were similarly mixed, with Wyoming doing better than the nation in setting children up for success when they enter school.

However, the state's ranking for how students fare while they are in school and their potential for finding a job post-school were not as strong. Though Wyoming was in the top half in almost all categories, it ranked 31st in adult outcomes, which are measured by post-secondary education attainment and workforce indicators.

The report shows that Wyoming is willing to invest in education, but the outcomes may not track with spending. State officials have started a new educational attainment push to increase the number of Wyomingites with post-secondary certificates and academic degrees that is meant to improve the state's scores in that realm.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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