During the election, several candidates said that Utah's public education students perform among the worst in the nation. The truth is that our students test above the national average in reading, math and science. They are ranked 10th in the nation in the percentage of seniors passing AP tests with a 3 or better, and they consistently score above the national average on the ACT.
It is not our public school students who are performing so poorly — it is the people who are supposed to be supporting the system. The fact that Utah spends less dollars per student than any other state in the nation isn't all that bad when one considers that there is only one other state that compares to Utah in the number of students per capita. What is bad is that many of our legislators keep decrying the quality of our teachers, but they do very little to attract and keep good teachers.
Utah's effort to educate its students, or the percent of personal income spent on public education, is below the national average. Prior to the 1990s, Utah consistently was ranked in the top 15 states, but Utah now ranks near 30. And while Utah's teachers are responsible to teach more students per teacher than any other state, they do so with beginning and average salaries significantly below the national average.
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