Test Scores Lag As School Spending Soars
Spending more money on education won’t improve test scores, says a new report on academic achievement.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has released the ninth edition of the “Report Card on American Education: A State-By-State Analysis.” The study covers two generations of students, 1976-2001, and grades each state using over a hundred measures of educational resources and achievement.
“This year’s Report Card will serve as a valuable tool for state legislators as they debate the future of education,” said Duane Parde, ALEC’s Executive Director. “Now more than ever it’s critical for America to focus on student achievement.”
ALEC is the nation’s largest bipartisan, individual membership organization of state legislators.
A key finding of the report shows there is no immediate evident correlation between conventional measures of education imputs, such as expenditures per pupil and teacher salaries, and educational outputs, such as average scores on standardized tests.
Spending per pupil in constant dollars has increased 22.6 percent nationwide over the past twenty years, says the Report Card on American Education: A State-By-State Analysis. Yet 74 percent of public school eighth graders taking the NAEP mathematics exam in 2000 performed below the “proficiency” level, and 35 percent performed below the “basic” level.
“Now is the time to choose a new road for our children,” said Andrew T. LeFevre, Director of ALEC’s Education Task Force. “A road that leads to excellence not only in students, but also in our teachers.”
Other key, state-by-state findings of the report include:
— Wisconsin, followed by Washington, Minnesota, and Iowa, had the top performing public elementary and secondary schools in the nation, as measured by several standardized tests. Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin were ranked first, second and third respectively in last year’s Report Card. Washington, which ranked eighth last year, jumped six spots to number two. Mississippi, the District of Columbia, and Louisiana once again ranked at the bottom of the scale.
— Seventy four percent of public school eighth graders taking the NAEP mathematics exam in 2000 performed below the “proficiency” level. Thirty five percent of eighth graders taking exam performed below the “basic” level.
— Over the past 20 years, expenditures per pupil in constant dollar terms have increased nationwide by 22.6 percent. West Virginia (plus 109.4 percent), followed closely by Kentucky (plus 92.0 percent) led the nation in increased spending since 1979. The state with the next largest increase was Connecticut (plus 64.9 percent).
— There is no immediately evident correlation between conventional measures of education inputs, such as expenditures per pupil and teacher salaries, and educational outputs, such as average scores on standardized tests. In fact, of all the educational inputs measured in this study, only higher pupil-to-teacher ratios, fewer students per school, and a lower percentage of a state’s total budget received from the federal government have a positive impact on educational achievement. These results, however, are weak at best, and do not hold when measured as changes over the past two decades.
— Of the ten states that increased per pupil expenditures the most over the past two decades West Virginia (plus 109.4 percent), Kentucky (plus 92.0 percent), Connecticut (plus 64.9 percent), South Carolina (plus 63.0 percent), Maine (plus 60.0 percent), Hawaii (plus 56.7 percent), Tennessee (plus 55.4 percent), Vermont (plus 53.9 percent), Indiana (plus 51.9 percent), and Georgia (plus 51.6 percent) none ranked in the top ten in academic achievement.
— Of the ten states that experienced the greatest decreases in pupil-to-teacher ratios over the past two decades Maine (-36.3 percent), Alabama (-34.2 percent), Virginia and Hawaii (-28.5 percent), South Carolina (-28.1 percent), West Virginia (-27.6 percent), Wyoming (-26.4 percent), New York (-25.1 percent), Georgia (-23.9 percent), and North Carolina (-23.3 percent) none ranked in the top ten in academic achievement.
For more information contact Bob Adams at 202-742-8516.