By Andrew Hensel
(The Center Square) – Illinois placed 45th in a new WalletHub report ranking the states by their school districts’ equitability. That’s despite taxpayers spending among the highest amount on schools throughout the country.
WalletHub ranked the equitability of each school district in each state based on two metrics: average household income and expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools per pupil.
Illinois has a number of wealthy school districts throughout the state, according to WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez. Wealthier school districts tend to have more resources for students.
“More affluent school districts receive better funding for schools than poorer schools,” Gonzalez said. “That leads to worse graduation rates, worse test scores, and lower graduation rates for students in low-income districts.”
Illinois spends on average $16,200 per student on K-12 education. Florida, which places must better on Wallethub’s equity ranking at fifth, spends $9,600 per student and gets better results, according to government spending watchdog Wirepoints.
A report from the Metropolitan Planning Council shows that Illinois’ public school districts spend twice the national average on administrative costs – $544 per student in Illinois compared to $226 nationally.
Illinois also has the nation’s second highest average property taxes in the U.S., with nearly two-thirds of that going to education.
According to a study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Illinois’ test scores were largely the same or worse than Indiana and Florida between 2007 and 2019, with both states spending far less money on schools.
Illinois also ranks dead last in equity among states in the Midwest, according to Gonzalez.
“Iowa ranked 1st on the list, Indiana ranked 4th overall, Minnesota ranked 8th, and South Dakota 9th,” Gonzalez said. “So students in those states may be on a more level playing field when it comes to schooling compared to Illinois.”
Illinois ranked in the bottom five along with Montana, California, Idaho and New York.