How Does Arizona's Education Stack Up?

Arizona's education system has been taking a hit in nationwide surveys. Cuts in state funding, increased class size and shortages in teachers may be taking its toll.

Pupil spending

According to the 2013 US Census Bureau, only two states spent less per pupil than Arizona. At $7,208 annually, Arizona was outspent by every state other than Utah at $6,555 and Idaho at $6,791. The national average was $10,700, with New York topping the list at $19,818, followed by Alaska at $18,175 and the District of Columbia at $17,953.

Teacher salaries

The average annual salary for a starting teacher in Arizona was $31,874 in 2013, according to the National Education Association.

That's the lowest of any neighboring state. Arizona's starting teacher salary falls behind California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.

All five adjoining states had higher annual starting salaries, at $41,259, $35,358, $33,081, $32,126 and $$31,960, respectively.

The average starting teacher salary nationwide was reported as $36,141.

Test scores

As for college entrance examination scores, Arizona placed in the bottom one-third overall. The 2014 combined ACT results ranked Arizona 46 out of 51 states. Massachusetts took first place, followed by Connecticut and New Hampshire. Arizona fared better in combined SAT scores in 2014, placing mid-pack at 27 out of 51. The top three states were North Dakota, Illinois and Iowa.

School systems

A financial website called WalletHub.com compiled and analyzed school data nationwide, then compared 13 key categories. Arizona ranked 48 out of 51 states in overall school system ranking. Arizona finished 43 in dropout rate, 46 in reading test scores and 49 in pupil-to-teacher ratio-the third highest in the United States. Only Utah and California had more crowded classrooms. Massachusetts, Colorado and New Jersey were ranked as the top three school systems overall in the United States.

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