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New dashboards compare education spending to outcomes in Utah

A new online tool provided by the Office of the Utah State Auditor offers comparisons of spending and student progress per district.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Office of the State Auditor has paired with the Utah State Board of Education to offer more transparency to parents or anybody who wants to know how much a school district spends on education. At the same time, the dashboard provides a glimpse into student test scores.

The new dashboards show student proficiency versus average student spending on a district-by-district basis. The information is provided by the Utah State Board of Education.

According to State Auditor John Dougall, the statistics might be a shock to Utahns who assume that more money spent on education will equate to better outcomes.

“We don’t see that kind of correlation or even causation within the data,” Dougall told KSL Newsradio.

Dougall used the Dagget School District as an example. “[It’s] a very small district that spends a lot per student. They’re above average when it comes to language arts and science but below average when it comes to math.

“It’s easy to start seeing that data,” Dougall said.

According to the dashboard, the Dagget School District spends approximately $28,500 per student. This district is in the northeast corner of Utah, near the border with Wyoming and serves 166 students.

For comparison purposes, and on the other end of the spectrum, the Alpine School District is in Utah County and serves nearly 78,200 students. According to the dashboard, the Alpine district spends $9,582 per student.

“The whole point,” Dougall said, “is to highlight what is going on so folks can determine, ‘is that what we expect?’ Or ‘do we expect something different?'”

(Simone Seikaly contributed to this report.)


A new online dashboard helps compare education spending to education results. Photo credit Utah Department of Education.