OKLAHOMA
EDUCATION
FACTS

There’s no shortage of information and data about public education in Oklahoma. Please use the information on this page as a resource for important conversations about public education. If you’d like to see additional data added to this page, please contact Christy Watson.

Most of the data is from the National Center for Education Statistics or the state Education Department unless otherwise noted.

ENROLLMENT

Oklahoma has experienced tremendous public school enrollment growth since the early 1990s.

 

GROWTH IN STUDENT NEEDS

As Oklahoma’s student population has grown, so have the needs of students and the necessity of schools to adapt to meet these needs.
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National Center for Education Statistics, 1992-2014 *ELL data available since 1998


INVESTMENT

Oklahoma’s neighboring states invest substantially more in common education on a per-student basis. Even when adjusted for recent investments, Oklahoma remains last in the region on per-student spending.  

ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS

Are Oklahoma’s schools top heavy? That’s not what data shows. Oklahoma administrators are responsible for more students than most of their peers in other states. In fact, schools have adjusted staffing to meet new mandates and the growing needs of students. School Staffing

All Administration

By the Numbers
Student-to-Administrator Ratio

237:1

  • Oklahoma ranks 44th nationally on per-student administration spending.
  • Oklahoma has the highest student-to-administrator ratio in the region.
  • Oklahoma’s student-to-administrator ratio is 42nd nationally. 
  • Oklahoma could hire 300 more administrators and still not reach the national average.
  • All administration includes superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals and assistant principals.

District Administration

By the Numbers
Student-to-Administrator Ratio

1,289:1

  • Oklahoma’s district student-to-administrator ratio is 43rd the nation and 40 percent higher than the national average.
  • Oklahoma has the highest district student-to-administrator ratio in the region.
  • Since 1992, the number of district-level administrators has fallen 15 percent.
  • District administration includes superintendents and assistant superintendents.

School Administration

By the Numbers
Student-to-Administrator Ratio

301:1

  • The school-level student-to-administrator ratio is higher than the regional and national averages.
  • Since 1992, Oklahoma has experienced growth in the number of principals and assistant principals.
  • Oklahoma’s per-student spending on school-level administrators is lower than the regional and national averages.
  • School administration includes principals and assistant principals.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

SCHOOL STAFFING

School Staffing

  • There are fewer district-level administrators despite additional mandates.
  • With the growth in students receiving free lunch, English language learners and children with special needs, schools have had no choice but to add additional employees to provide support.
  • The largest area of staffing growth comes in two areas: instructional aides and support staff who provide direct services to students, including speech pathologists, audiologists and social workers. 
  • Schools also face many more mandates — particularly in the area of testing — than they did in 1992 that have required growth in some non-teaching areas. 
  • Enrollment increases in pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten also have increased the need for instructional aides.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

SHARED SERVICES

Many school districts are cooperating to offer expanded services for students and obtain efficiencies.
  • More than 130 districts use shared treasurer services and/or obtain these services via a local financial institution.
  • 375 districts cooperate to offer student services in areas including special education, English language learners, alternative education, professional development and counseling.
  • Fourteen school districts are using shared superintendents.
  • More than 100 superintendents have additional job duties.

TEACHER SHORTAGE & TEACHER PAY

Teacher Shortage & Teacher Pay Facts

  • The average Oklahoma teacher will earn an estimated $54,256 in pay and benefits in 2020-2021, according to the National Education Association’s Ranking and Estimates annual report.  

  • That’s a 20% increase over five years ago when average teacher compensation was $45,292.  

  • While the legislature approved an average pay raise of $7,300 during the 2017 and 2018 sessions, the nearly $9,000 increase over the last five years means districts also directed other resources into teacher pay. 

  • Surrounding states are also increasing public education investment, causing Oklahoma’s teacher compensation to drop just below the $54,943 average of surrounding states. 

  • Colorado, which already led the region in teacher pay, saw an increase of nearly $3,000 since last year and became the first of surrounding states to top $60,000 in average teacher pay. 

  • Kansas increased its average teacher pay by more than $2,600 and now ranks just behind Oklahoma with average pay of $53,932. 

  • Missouri and Arkansas have the lowest teacher pay in the region, although the Arkansas legislature is currently considering a $2,000 pay increase. 
  • Districts reported 596 teaching vacancies as of Aug. 1, 2019.
  • Districts have added a net of 392 teaching positions since last school year.
  • This school year, state education officials approved 2,797 emergency teaching certificates. That’s lower than last year’s record high of 3,321 and lower than two years ago.
  • Special education, elementary, high school science, high school math and middle school math are the most difficult teaching positions to fill.
Sources: OSSBA, State Department of Education

PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS AND TAX-CREDIT SCHOLARSHIPS

We urge legislators to work with parents and education leaders at all levels for real solutions to support the 700,000 students in their public schools.
Tuition Tax-Credit Scholarships are a way for legislators to allow indirect public support for private schools with little or no financial transparency or accountability for student achievement.