1. Gradebook

Florida rates high in funding equity, low on spending in new Education Week report

The state often touts the publication’s analysis of performance.
[Associated Press | 2016]
Published Jun. 6

Florida government leaders didn’t hesitate to send out alerts and announcements last September, after Education Week issued its 2018 “Quality Counts” report that rated the state fourth nationally for student achievement.

“It is no coincidence that Florida is leading the nation in K-12 student achievement,” then-commissioner Pam Stewart said in a prepared statement. “Governor Scott has invested record funding in education to ensure every Florida student has access to the world-class education they deserve.”

The 2019 “Quality Counts," however, takes a dimmer view of Florida’s education finances.

In the latest report, released this week, Education Week gives Florida the nation’s top mark for its funding equity — meaning essentially spreading money based on needs — but also logs the state in at 45th for spending overall.

In other words, Florida doesn’t spend a lot on education compared to other states, but of that amount, it spreads it fairly. It’s not alone, according to the publication.

“States That Score Well on Spending Tend to Score Poorly on Equity and Vice Versa,” the authors wrote. “Florida highlights this disconnect. The state is ranked first for equity, receiving the sole A for the indicator, but 45th for spending, with an F.”

Also in that mix are states like Alaska and Vermont, among the highest spenders but with poor ratings for equity.

Michael Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute recently wrote a piece in which he praised Florida’s financial position as a virtue.

“States like Massachusetts and New Jersey made [academic] progress, but spent a ton of money along the way. Schools in the Bay State, for example, increased spending 22 percent from 1999 to 2009 — the period of its greatest NAEP gains — or about $3,000 per child in inflation-adjusted dollars. New Jersey schools, meanwhile, now spend an average of $21,000 a year, up about a third in real dollars since 1990,” Petrilli wrote.

“Florida, on the other hand, kept spending per pupil flat as a pancake, actually inching downward from $9,765 per pupil in 1990 to $9,724 in 2016 in inflation-adjusted dollars. This makes Florida a serious outlier, as the next-stingiest state, Arizona, increased spending by 13 percent, or about $1,000 per pupil, over the same period. Considering Florida’s achievement gains, it means the return-on-investment of the A+ reforms are through the roof.”

The Florida Education Association, a frequent critic of the Republican-led Legislature and its education policies, was quick to highlight the state’s latest Education Week ranking, though it did acknowledge the positive piece as well.

“Florida’s grades are much like last year’s,” the group wrote in its press release after the “Quality Counts” publication. “We get an F on spending, ranking 45th in the nation. In 2018, Florida also earned an F on spending, ranking 44th. On overall school finance for 2019, Florida earned a D-plus, ranking 39th out of 49 states receiving overall finance rankings. The nation received a grade of C for school finance. Florida’s finance grade is unchanged from 2018. The bright spot for Florida is equity.”

The Department of Education has yet to weigh in.


  1. The Pasco County school district is considering adopting a policy for student medical marijuana use on district property. [Getty Images]
    The rule will not change the district’s current approach to the touchy topic.
  2. Shown in 2002, Carolyn Hill, then the principal of Kenly Elementary School in east Tampa, celebrated after 78 of her students improved their state scores and were treated to lunch at The Colonnade Restaurant. Hill, now deceased, might be honored Tuesday as the Hillsborough County School Board considers naming a school for her in the SouthShore area. STAFF  |  Tampa Bay Times
    School Board members will select a name on Tuesday
  3. Alachua County school superintendent Karen Clarke welcomes the crowd at a "listening session" Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 to discuss changes in the Florida's education standards. A similar session is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at Jefferson High, 4401 W Cypress St. in Tampa. The Florida Channel
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  4. The Pinellas School Board recognized James Krull as the district's bus Driver of the Year at its meeting Tuesday. From left are board members Bill Dudley, Eileen Long, Carol Cook, Rene Flowers, Krull, and board members Nicole Carr, Joanne Lentino and Lisa Cane. Pinellas County Schools
    News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.
  5. In this image from a telecast by The Florida Channel, Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran speaks to a Gainesville crowd that came to discuss revisions to the state's education standards this past week. “We’re going to end up with the world’s best standards,” Corcoran said. The Florida Channel
    The effort, ordered by Gov. Ron DeSantis, aims to transform the way students learn in public schools. A “listening session” is set for Tampa’s Jefferson High.
  6. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times  Florida Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr., R- Hialeah; Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, watch the passage of the school voucher bill Tuesday in the Florida House.
    The new program, designed to eliminate waiting lists for tax credit scholarships, is likely to be challenged in court.
  7. A research group has raised concerns that Florida's plan to track student social media usage and collect other data will compromise children's privacy.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  8. Sigfredo Garcia rubs his eyes as he prepares to hear the closing arguments on Thursday in his trial on charges he killed Florida State University law professor Daniel Markel in 2014. The case went to the jury later in the day, and they will resume deliberations Friday. Tallahassee Democrat
    Florida State University law professor Daniel Markel was killed in 2014. Prosecutors blame his ex-wife, but only the hitman and his girlfriend stand trial.
  9. Gov. Ron DeSantis greets local officials at Dunedin High School on Oct. 7, 2019, part of a swing around the state to announce his plan to boost starting teacher pay in Florida to $47,500. MEGAN REEVES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Veteran teachers aren’t included. The governor can’t set teacher salaries. And a host of other concerns.
  10. Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is scheduled to lead a listening session on the state's education standards review. CHRIS URSO  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Watch the discussion on the Florida Channel.