By Ben Velderman

BANGOR, Maine – Nearly twenty years ago, Maine’s fourth-grade students led the nation in reading proficiency. But that’s no longer the case.

“In 1994, about 41 percent of Maine’s fourth-graders were reading at grade level or above,” as measured by the National Assessment of Education Progress, the Bangor Daily News reports. “That was 13 percentage points above the national average of 28 percent.”

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Now, “Maine’s fourth-grade reading proficiency rate … is 32 percent — dead even with the national average.”

This dropoff is occurring in spite of the fact Maine spends $15,032 per student – $4,262 more than the national average, reports the Daily News.

“We’ve sort of worn out the idea that additional funding increases quality …,” Lance Dutson, executive director of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, told the paper.

It’s troubling that two-thirds of Maine’s fourth-graders aren’t able to read at the appropriate level.

But maybe Maine’s taxpayers are beginning to realize that underperforming schools cannot be fixed with more tax money. The only tried-and-true formula for improving public education remains school choice, competition and teacher/administrator accountability.