Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Education Spending Doubled, Stagnant Test Scores

Since 1970, inflation adjusted public school spending has more than doubled. Over the same period, achievement of students at the end of high school has stagnated according to the Department of Education’s own long term National Assessment of Educational Progress (see chart above). Meanwhile, the high school graduation rate has declined by 4 or 5%, according to Nobel laureate economist James Heckman.

So the only thing higher public school spending has accomplished is to raise taxes by about $300 billion annually, without improving outcomes. The fact that more schooling without more learning is not a recipe for economic growth is confirmed by the independent empirical work of economists Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann. Their key finding is that
academic achievement, not schooling per se, is what matters to economic growth.

Based on this body of research, the president’s decision to pump $100 billion into existing public school systems is likely slowing the U.S. economic recovery.

~
Andrew Coulson, Director, Cato's Center for Educational Freedom

14 Comments:

At 9/09/2009 4:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A good portion of this increase is due to special education requirements. In the 1950's special ed kids were not allowed in schools, and no services were provided. The concept was to warehouse the kid in a state home. Or because women did not work just stick the mother with the problem.

 
At 9/09/2009 5:13 PM, Blogger 1 said...

Note the following from the Desert News dated July 30, '09: The per-pupil spending myth
Even Utah, with its dead-last $5,683 in '06-07, is much higher than that figure. And yet by any measure students score lower on tests today than they did then, and they also compare less favorably with students from other industrialized nations. All that extra money hasn't added up to an ounce of improvement.

By similar measures, Utah's schools continue to produce students who perform at or higher than national averages. That's true with the ACT college admissions exam. Two-thirds of Utah students took this test last year, which is itself an impressive figure. It's also true for the SAT test.

However, the last time nationwide SAT scores were reported (in August of 2008), they were at the lowest levels nationally in nearly a decade. Utah clearly isn't hampered by its lower per-pupil expenditures when compared to other states, but it is producing kids who score above a national average that is dismal. The nation needs to quit fixating on expenditures and look at other ways to improve schools
...

Yet the federal government that has a big hand in running these madrassas insist Improvements seen in reading and mathematics and Black students make greater gains from early 1970s than White students...

According to USAToday dated Oct. '08: U.S. cities' math scores split compared to rest of the world

Really, not so good for the money spent...

 
At 9/09/2009 5:59 PM, Anonymous Andrew Coulson said...

The anonymous first poster is mistaken, as professor Jay Greene explains here: http://jaypgreene.com/2009/01/04/blaming-special-ed/

More recently (http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_58.htm), Greene has empirically demonstrated what the education policy community has known for a very long time: the incentives of the federal IDEA have encouraged public schools to label children as suffering from too-often spurious "Specific Learning Disabilities." Greene has shown, furthermore, than when those troubling incentives are removed, the rate of disability labelling by public schools drops significantly.

And finally, the McKay special needs voucher program in Florida, with which participating parents are hugely satisfied, operates for substantially less per pupil than the _average_ public school per pupil expenditure in that state.

So, no, disabled kids are not to blame for the proflicacy of monopoly schooling.

 
At 9/09/2009 6:28 PM, Blogger 1 said...

Thank you Andrew Coulson for answering that question that was percolating in the back of my mind...

 
At 9/09/2009 7:20 PM, Blogger bob wright said...

Interestingly, the trend in math scores for students age 9 has been positive since 1973.

Similarly, the trend in math scores for students age 13 has been positive also since 1973.

Something is happening between ages 13 and 17.

Typically, in what grade is a 13 year old? 7th or 8th?

 
At 9/09/2009 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To counter Andrew this web site from special educators says that the cost ranges from 1.6 for a single disablity to 3.1 for a multiple disablity of the cost of a regular student.
http://www.csef-air.org/publications/seep/national/Final_SEEP_Report_5.PDF
In addition more psychological services are provided now than then. I had a teacher killed 2 years after I had him but no grief counseling was provided, (Mid 1960's) We have become more concerned about such things. Bullying went on then as now but there were no programs to help those affected. One could look back another 100 years and say that back then it was suck it up or die. (I suspect a number of suicides at the time were disguised as accidents). One wonders how many of the run off the road accidents of the 1960's to teen agers might have been suicides?

 
At 9/09/2009 8:39 PM, Blogger OA said...

Who cares about test scores? Where's the graph of their self esteem? I hear that's what we're trying for these days.

 
At 9/10/2009 2:42 AM, Anonymous Robert Waters said...

"So the only thing higher public school spending has accomplished is to raise taxes by about $300 billion annually, without improving outcomes."

Or to look at it another way, raising taxes by $300bn/annum has prevented a decline in outcomes. You can't just make your statement as it stands; you have no idea what would have happened without the additional expenditure. Maybe the additional expenditure has prevented a severe decline into illiteracy? Or maybe it has been an effective defense against the dumbing down of society caused by, allegedly, TV programs like Jerry Springer.

Vox Sapiens
Intelligent commentary on business and society

 
At 9/10/2009 6:01 AM, Anonymous Rodney Tyler said...

Mark Perry is a rock starr! You should check out his timeless article from 1995, http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/the-educational-octopus/

 
At 9/11/2009 3:28 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"Maybe the additional expenditure has prevented a severe decline into illiteracy? Or maybe it has been an effective defense against the dumbing down of society caused by, allegedly, TV programs like Jerry Springer"...

Hmmm, personal opinion here but if public education in the government run schools financed by extorted tax dollars was suppose to mitigate the dumbing down of the citizenry then recent history seems to prove you wrong...

 
At 9/12/2009 11:31 AM, Blogger TheTruth said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 9/12/2009 11:32 AM, Blogger TheTruth said...

This story made DetentionSlip.org front page.

(DetentionSlip.org is a Time Magazine Top 25 Blog for 2009 and widely regarded as the #1 education gossip / buzz site in the world)

 
At 9/16/2009 6:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't suppose anyone considered or adjusted for changes in drop out rates? I mean, if kids who would have dropped out remain in school, isn't that likely to have an effect on aggregate test scores?

Maybe we should go back and kick out the poor performing students to increase the aggregate scores?

Also, what was the change in private school spending, and was there a change in test scores?

 
At 9/17/2009 7:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The graph and subsequent information is too general to analyze. What is included in 'education spending'--after school programs? school councilors? non-academic subjects? money spent on kids who cannot attend 'regular' classes and must be home schooled? education in juvenile detention centers?...and what is measured--practical application of math and reading? a written test taken by all English speakers? a written test taken by all students regardless of first language? a test that changes over time, thus making it difficult to compare 1970 to 2000 scores?... there is simply not enough information in this post to draw any conclusions

 

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