The internet has made teaching small involved classes a rewarding pleasure: when an interesting issue comes up laptops fly open and we immediately have the data we want.
Yesterday in my social issues class we were discussing per-pupil expenditure by state in primary and secondary education. Utah is famous for having the lowest per-pupil funding in the country. We are right next to and similar in many ways to Wyoming, which has one of the highest funding levels in the country. The dollars per student are $7,200 in Utah and $18,000 in Wyoming according to this source. Caution is always in order, of course, but these numbers are in broad agreement with other sources and other years.
What does Wyoming get for the extra $11,000 per student? A quick assay is to look at NAEP scores. Here are eighth grade math scores for white students over the last two decades:
A quick look shows that Wyoming is getting nothing at all for their extra $11,000. The results for students identified as hispanic are grounds for a tad of optimism: Wyoming hispanics consistently outperform Utah Hispanics by 10 to 15 points, but we have to know more about the history and demography of the two hispanic populations, those of Utah and Wyoming, before we attribute the differences to $11,000 per student.
What am I missing here?