Kansas data indicates that lower levels of education are often linked to lack of health care coverage, limited ability to pay for medical or dental treatment, higher use of tobacco products, increased obesity rates and poor health outcomes. The state average for graduation rates (2018) was 87.3 percent, which means that 12.7 percent of students were left behind. In addition, 63 percent of fourth graders are not proficient in reading. KHF believes that by improving educational attainment, we can work toward better employment opportunities and better health outcomes.
Few measures of educational success are as prevalent as high school graduation rate. Every district strives to graduate its students, as a high school diploma is often a dividing line between obtaining a job with a living wage as opposed to working in low-paying jobs without the possibility of advancement. Additionally, high school graduation is also a key indicator toward positive health outcomes. To examine the graduation rates in Kansas, the map below shows the graduation rates for every county in the state, using the 2016-2017 school year as the time period. This data comes from the 2017 Kids Count report, published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Through its early childhood and literacy programs, KHF hopes to make a long-term impact in the educational attainment rates of Kansas students. As these efforts begin to make a difference, KHF expects to see increases in graduation rates across multiple Kansas counties.
According to Feeding America, 1 in 7 children in the U.S. struggle with hunger, and there may be millions of kids across the country who aren’t getting the nourishment their bodies need. This plays a significant role in learning, as research demonstrates that children from families who are not sure where their next meal may come from are more likely to have lower math scores and repeat a grade, among other challenges. In an attempt to counteract the negative performance impacts of hunger, Kansas participates in the federal free- and reduce-priced lunch program. The map below shows, by county, the percentage of Kansas kids who currently qualify for this hunger program. The data is courtesy of the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE).
While this federal program plays a crucial role in making sure Kansas students have nutritious foods to eat, the rates are also indicative of broader economic realities in Kansas. If we expect our children to learn, grow and develop in all aspects of their lives, battling hunger in schools is an important place to start.
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