AUSTIN (AP) – An education expert says Texas is “above average” compared to other states in public-school student performance.

Brookings Institution expert Grover Whitehurst testified Thursday that he would put Texas and its schools “in the top quartile” nationwide.

The Texas Legislature voted last year to cut $5.4 billion in funding to schools, despite rising enrollment and tougher academic standards.

School districts responsible for educating three-fourths of Texas’ more than 5 million students have sued. They contend that the way the state funds education is inadequate and unfair.

After weeks of district witnesses, Whitehurst is the first witness for the Texas attorney general’s office. Its attorneys say they will show the Legislature acted rationally, and that Texas schools are strong.

The trial before Austin-based state District Judge John Dietz will continue into January.

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