Mississippi is proving it’s hard to tie student outcomes to superintendent pay, as many district leaders with large salaries aren’t seeing much academic success.
Of the state’s most highly paid superintendents, nine run below-average districts with a D grade from the Mississippi Department of Education’s most recent accountability grades, according to data from See the School Spending, a website from the conservative-leaning Mississippi Center for Public Policy. The site takes data from the MDE and places it into an interactive, sortable form, with the most recent superintendent salary data from 2014.
Another eight well-paid superintendents are in charge of C districts, which is considered the state average in the annual accountability scores for districts and individual schools. The other 16 districts received A and B grades from the MDE.
Another area where spending more money doesn’t always get more performance is in per-pupil spending. Pro-school choice organization Empower Mississippi completed a recent survey of the state’s most recent accountability scores (from 2015) against each district’s per-pupil spending (from the 2013-2014 school year). Of the 10 lowest in terms of per-pupil spending, there were only two C or average districts, with the rest scoring an A or a B.
The 10 highest-spending districts didn’t have an A grade among them, with one B, seven Cs and two Ds.
State taxpayers spent more than $2 billion on K-12 in fiscal 2017, the fifth consecutive year under the GOP-led Legislature that K-12 spending has increased.
“If spending lots of money guaranteed greater outcomes in public education, Washington, D.C., would have one of the best education systems in the nation instead of one of the worst,” said Grant Callen, president of Empower Mississippi. “Mississippi is no different. If money alone were the solution to our education problems, Mississippi’s system would be much better than it is, because we have been steadily increasing public education funding since the 1970s.”
This story was changed to reflect the year of the available salary data