New data demonstrates that there is no link between state education spending and student outcomes, says Andrew Coulson, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom.
Comparing academic performance with state spending is an incredibly valuable way to measure the efficacy of education policies. Looking at academic performance on a national scale, the results are not good. Seventeen year olds’ performance has been stagnant since 1970 across all subjects, despite K-12 education costs tripling.
Unfortunately, similar data at the state level has been very difficult to come by. Spending data exists for the last 50 years, but it is scattered across various publications. Academic data, on the other hand, is even more difficult to find, as it is either unavailable prior to 1990 or involves an unrepresentative sample.
To produce the type of data needed to evaluate education policies effectively, Coulson took state SAT score averages and adjusted them by participation rate and student demographics (factors known to affect outcomes). He then compared the results with recent state-level National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, producing SAT score trends from 1972 to present day.
What did he find?
In short — academic performance and test scores across the 50 states appear to have no connection whatsoever with the amount of state education funding.
In nearly every other field in the United States, productivity has risen between 1970 and present day, especially as a result of new technologies. It is time to ask what in our approach to education is preventing it from demonstrating a similar level of success and growth.
Source: Andrew J. Coulson, “State Education Trends,” Cato Institute, March 18, 2014.
I wanted to publicly say how much I appreciate Georgia Public Policy Foundation. For those of you that will be entering the Legislature or are relatively new you may not quite yet appreciate how much we rely on Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s research and work. As you know we’re a citizen’s legislature. We have very little staff. They have been an invaluable, invaluable resource to us. To put this [Forum] on and the regular programs that they do throughout the year make us better at what we do. (At the 2012 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum.)