Hawaii was ranked 44th in the nation in academic achievment, 43rd in average SAT scores, and came in dead last in “educational freedom,” according to a nationwide analysis by the American Legislative Exchange Council. This despite the fact that Hawaii was cited as one of the ten states with the greatest improvement in student-to-teacher ratios.
The council’s 11th “Report Card on American Education,” summarizing the state of education in the U.S. between 1981-2003, incorporated more than 100 measures of educational resources and achievement. It was compiled by Andrew LeFevre, the director of the council’s Criminal Justice and Education Task Force.
The council notes that the results of the study bolsters the view that simply spending more taxpayer dollars on education is not enough to improve student achievement.
“We cannot simply spend our way to better grades, but must make sure that we are making the right kinds of investments in our schools to promote high student achievement,” said executive director Duane Parde. “We must continue to find and focus on new, best practices that will increase accountability, discipline and standards for not only children, but for teachers as well.”
Among the findings for Hawaii:
Academic Achievment: With all factors and rankings taken into consideration, the council ranked Hawaii 44th in the nation. Minnesota, Wisconsin and Massachusetts led the nation, and Washington, D.C. came in last.
Educational Freedom: According to a separate survey by the Manhattan Institute Center for Civic Innovation, Hawaii ranked dead last in “Educational Freedom,” determined by averaging the score each state recieves on the amount of choice available betwen public schools, private schools, charter schools and homeschooling. Hawaii, with a score of 0.88, was the only state with a score below 1.0. The top ranked “educational freedom” state, Arizona, had a score of 2.94.
Student-to-Teacher Ratio: Based on 2001-2002 figures, the council ranked Hawaii 36th for a student-to-teacher ratio of 16.5, tied with Kentucky. Notably, Hawaii was ranked 49th in 1981-1982.
Expenditures Per Pupil: Hawaii is ranked 34th with $6,775 expended per elementary and secondary school student. New York was ranked first with $11,029 per student, and Utah came in last with $4,769 per student.
Teacher Salary: Among public elementary and secondary school teachers, Hawaii’s teachers are the nation’s 22nd best paid, with an average annual salary of $41,951. New Jersey came in first with an average salary of $54,575, and South Dakota’s average salary of $31,295 was the lowest. When compared with other local salaries, however, Hawaii ranked 5th, its teachers earning about 107.83 percent of what workers with at least a bachelor’s degree earn. The $49,758 salary of Rhode Island teachers represent a 118.46 percent premium, the best in the U.S., whereas Colorado’s $40,222 salary comes in far below 80.66 percent what other degree holders earn.
SAT Scores: About 54 percent of Hawaii’s students took the SATs, with average scores of 486 verbal and 516 math. The average cumulative score of 1,002 ranks the islands 43rd in the country.