While no single measure is fully adequate to evaluate Delaware’s public school system, more and more data is available to provide a good estimate of performance. Following is a sample of the current data:
- Since the passage of the “No Child Left Behind” federal legislation, each year, the U.S. Department of Education administers the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to all public school 4th and 8th graders. Over the last 20 years of testing, almost two-thirds of Delaware’s public school 8th graders have tested below proficient in reading and math. This includes more than 80% of Delaware’s black 8th graders.
- According to the Delaware Department of Education’s annual Report Card, 47% of all Delaware public school students are below proficient in reading, and 58% are below proficient in math.
- Delaware Department of Education data shows that the state’s charter schools perform better on the report card than the traditional public schools (61% proficient in reading and 49% proficient in math) and have a lower rate of out-of-school suspensions and incidents of violence. The spending per pupil is 20% lower in the charter schools, and the average teacher salaries are 13% less.
- According to the SAT scores, only 22% of Delaware public school seniors are college-ready.
- The Delaware Report Card states that just 80% of public school 8th graders feel safe in school.
- The data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) estimates personal income by county. An important component of that estimate is an adjustment for residence where BEA adjusts the earnings by “place of work” for the net out- or in- migration of earnings due to the flow of working commuters. The result is an estimate of “net earnings by place of residence.”
In the 10 years before the 1978 Federal public court busing decision, New Castle County had a modest annual average net out-migration of $85 million. From 1978 through 2018 the annual net out-migration of wages has soared to $1.7 billion. For 2018 the net out-migration of wages was $3.2 billion. This is driven primarily by professionals with school age children who work in NCC and choose to reside in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
- This year (2019-20) $2.4 billion will be spend on Delaware public education. Sixty percent of the funds come from the state, thirty percent from the local school districts, and ten percent from the Federal government. It amounts to over $17,500 per pupil.
According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Education (school year 2015-16) Delaware ranks 14th highest among all the states in expenditures on public education per pupil.
Yet, the U.S. Department also reports that the inflation-adjusted average annual salary of Delaware’s elementary and secondary public school teachers has been going down…dropping from $65,223 in 1989-90 to $60,484 in 2017-18.
- Looking at national data over the past 25 years, nonprofit EdChoice, found that “While the number of FTE teachers increased almost two and a half times as fast as the increase in students—resulting in significantly smaller class sizes—the number of non-teachers or ‘all other staff’ increased more than seven times the increase in students.
Instead of increasing teacher salaries over and above the cost of living, the American public education system continued its staffing surge.”
For Delaware, EdChoice found that between 1992 and 2015 public school enrollment rose 31%, the number of teachers increased 58%, and all other staff surged 82%.
Certainly, one would expect such staff as custodians, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers to increase at the same pace as pupil enrollment. The above average surge has been in FTE school district and school staff. And while staffing data is not available, the budget of the State’s Department of Education rose 50% between FY00 and FY20.
EdChoice estimates that since 1992 there has been staff growth in excess of enrollment growth of 2,487 FTEs. At $60,000 per FTE, DE would have saved $149.3 million….allowing $15,268 more per year in average teacher salaries
- Research by Dr. Eric Hanushek of Stanford University on the economic consequences of poor quality public education shows that if Delaware performed at the same level as Massachusetts in education, Delaware's GDP would be 8% higher every year, which it translates that every worker in Delaware would have a paycheck that is 17% higher. Compounded year after year.
- The education research literature argues that the three top determinants of quality public education are: teacher quality.
The analysis shows that a certified teacher provides no better education than a non-certified teacher. Furthermore, a master's degree teacher does no better than a non-master’s degree teacher. And it turns is a teacher with five years of experience teaches and produces just the same outcome as a teacher with 25 years of experience.