The District of Columbia spends far more money per student in its public elementary and secondary schools each year than the tuition costs at many private elementary schools, or even college-preparatory secondary schools. Yet, District 8th-graders ranked dead last in 2005 in national reading and math tests.
D.C.’s public elementary and secondary schools spent a total of $16,334 per student in the 2002-2003 school year, according to a Department of Education study. That compares to the $10,520 tuition at St. John’s College High School, a District Catholic school that sends almost all its graduates to four-year colleges.
Last year, however, only 12% of 8th-graders in the District’s public schools scored at grade-level proficiency or better in reading in the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress tests that were administered in the District and all 50 states. Only 7% of the District’s public-school 8th-graders scored grade-level proficiency or better in math.