The cost of K-12 dropouts
Zachary Janowski at the Yankee Institute has an interesting take on school efficiency in Hartford, CT:
Ten Connecticut school districts can produce two high school graduates for the price of one Hartford high school diploma, according to Department of Education data.
The most recent 13 years of education, representing kindergarten through 12th grade, cost $165,275 in Hartford. With a graduation rate of 69.3 percent, the cost per diploma in Hartford is $238,492.
In 2010, Hartford’s costs were less than double the costs of the most efficient school districts.
Presumably, students who drop out gain some benefits from their schooling, even if they don’t receive a degree. But a partial high school education is not much of an asset in the labor market relative to completion of a rigorous secondary program and vocational training. This analysis reveals just how much of Hartford’s K-12 investment is being squandered for likely little gain in outcomes for kids who don’t make it to graduation day.
The Yankee Institute’s analysis reveals an important side of the “doing more with less” coin: Schools that can deliver higher quality and better outcomes for the same level of spending should be highlighted as best practices just as should schools that are able to trim expenses and achieve the same level of quality. Hopefully Hartford and other low-efficiency districts in Connecticut can look to their more productive peers for strategies to increase their graduation rates.
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About the Editor
Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow
Chris Tessone was a Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow and the Director of Finance of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. He has strong interests in governance and education finance, especially teacher compensation and school facilities finance.
May 16, 2013