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EDUCATION : Good Schools, Bargain Prices

Is more money the only way to achieve high-quality schools? An analysis of school districts nationwide found many are producing high-achieving students at low cost. The study by American Demographics magazine found that student performance in other districts lags despite generous school budgets. Dollars-and-cents analyses of school performance are rising as employers raise doubts about the quality of graduates and taxpayers wonder if money is being handled wisely.

The Brain Belt

Per pupil expenditures for 1990-91 $6,500 or more Alaska Connecticut Maryland New Jersey New York Pennsylvania Vermont $5,300-$6,499 Delaware Illinois Maine Massachusetts Michigan New Hampshire Oregon Rhode Island Wisconsin Wyoming $4,800-$5,299 Colorado Florida Indiana Hawaii Kansas Minnesota Montana Nebraska Ohio Virginia Washington West Virginia $4,000-$4,799 Arizona California Georgia Iowa Kentucky Louisiana Missouri Nevada North Carolina North Dakota South Carolina Texas $3,999 or less Alabama Arkansas Idaho Mississippi New Mexico Oklahoma South Dakota Tennessee Utah Above average math proficiency Colorado Connecticut Idaho Indiana Iowa Maine Maryland Minnesota Missouri Nebraska New Hampshire New Jersey New York North Dakota Pennsylvania Utah Wisconsin Wyoming Not participating in the NAEP Math Assessment on which this is based: Alaska, Illinois, Kansas, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont and Washington.

High scores/low costs

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School districts that rate high on pupil performance and low in per-pupil expenses, listed alphabetically:

PERCENTILE pupil per- per-pupil District/city/state formance expenses Decatur City, Decatur, Ala. 85 18 Harrison, Harrison, Ark. 95 5 Idaho Falls, Idaho Falls, Ida. 91 15 Rock Island, Rock Island, Ill. 85 39 Sierra Vista, Sierra Vista, Ariz. 81 13 Solanco, Quarryville, Pa. 85 17 Valley Grove, Franklin, Pa. 97 15 Webster Groves, Web. Groves, Mo. 96 12 West Independent, West, Tex. 94 10

Low scores/high costs

School districts that rate low on pupil performance and high in per-pupil expenses, listed alphabetically:

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PERCENTILE pupil per- per-pupil District/city/state formance expenses Alpaugh Unified, Alpaugh, Calif. 4 83 Brown County, Horton, Kan. 16 81 Chicago City, Chicago, Ill. 1 84 Dixie County, Cross City, Fla. 4 96 Downsville Central, Downsville, N.Y. 15 94 Hartford, Hartford, Conn. 5 97 Hoboken City, Hoboken, N.J. 12 89 Lawrence, Lawrence, Mass. 14 81 Surry County, Surry, Va. 13 96

Sources: American Demographics magazine; SchoolMatch Inc., a Columbus, Ohio, research company; U.S. Department of Education; National Center for Education Statistics


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