SALEM, Ore. — For Oregonians familiar with the state's ongoing educational woes, this information likely won't come as a surprise — a recent study by personal finance site WalletHub comparing school systems in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia ranked Oregon among the worst in the country.
The Wallthub study compares school systems across a number of different categories, including performance, funding, safety, class size, and instructor qualifications.
Compared to the other 50 states and Washington, D.C., Oregon came in at #44 — squarely in the bottom ten school systems in the nation. It ranked almost equally low in both "quality" and "safety."
"For the majority of U.S. families, public education is the only option," wrote Adam McCann, financial writer for WalletHub. "But the quality of public school systems varies widely from state to state and is often a question of funding.
"Public elementary and secondary education money usually flows from three sources: the federal, state and local governments. According to the U.S. Department of Education, states contribute nearly as much as local governments, while the federal government supplies the smallest share. Some researchers have found that more resources — or taxes paid by residents — typically result in better school-system performance."
Yet Oregon fell among a handful of states that combined relatively high education spending with weak performance, the study found. While neighboring Washington had similar issues, it spent slightly more and performed significantly better than Oregon. California spent more than either state and performed better than Oregon, worse than Washington.
According to the study, Oregon had among the top three highest dropout rates in the nation, above only D.C. and New Mexico. It also had some of the most crowded classrooms in the country by "pupil-teacher ratio."
Lawmakers and educators alike have agreed that Oregon's schools are troubled, but in some cases disagreed on the method of addressing the problem. A proposed tax on businesses in order to raise $2 billion earmarked for education prompted a walkout by Republican Senators earlier this year, though it eventually passed.
The latest statistics from the 2017-2018 graduating class showed continued improvement on graduation rates in the state, but failed to help Oregon close the gap with the national average.