Spending skyrockets, scores don’t

While spending per-student has “taken off like a moonshot ,” SAT “scores have stayed the same or declined, reports Neal McCluskey at Cato @ Liberty. The fact that more students are taking the SAT doesn’t account for “the overwhelming lack of correlation between spending and scores,” especially as National Assessment of Education Progress scores also have flatlined.

Conservatives are incoherent on federal education policy, McCluskey adds, criticizing Rick Hess and Andrew Kelly of the American Enterprise Institute for their analysis of federal micromanaging. An addiction to spending federal money and a love of ”standards and accountability” leads to “a great big refuse heap of squandered money, red tape, educational stagnation, and political failure.” Yet Hess and Kelly don’t call for the feds to get out of education policy.

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  1. Watch the John Stossel video ‘stupid in america’, where it shows the lack of correlation between spending piles of money and student achievement.

    • Must this same nonsense be regurgitated every time somebody updates the graph?

      • Michael E. Lopez says:

        Yes. As long as the trend continues.

        It really can’t be said enough.

      • Michael E. Lopez says:

        That’s not to say, though, that this particular graph doesn’t have serious, serious problems. Some of which Cranberry points to below, and others which include things like the SAT’s being radically overhauled at least once during this time period.

  2. Fred the Fourth says:

    An intriguing way to look at the spending/pupil data is to break it down into facilities (operations and capital improvement), teacher salaries, on-site administration, and district / state level administration. I don’t have the data at hand anymore, but the vast majority (about 80% IIRC) of the increases in the chart are in the last two categories.

    • That’s no surprise. It was probably close to 20 years ago that I remember reading a comparison between DC Public Schools and the Archdiocese of Baltimore schools, which had almost exactly the same number of students. The Archdiocese had something like 14 central-office admins and DCPS had almost 1500. I’m sure the latter number hasn’t dropped. Schools are jobs programs for adults; jobs are behind the push for smaller classes and the small-schools push. The increased government intervention in schools has also increased the required paperwork,

  3. Jeff Kelley says:

    Education is the communicating of understandings. Why would money help? Why not just throw goldfish at education? We could give cancer patients money, and without a cure, what would the money do? The problem is not the understandings, it is the ability to communicate. The same problem we see throughout the world. Our societies used fear to set the order of communication. That works while people fear. The situation we face today is that because we understand more, we fear less, which is the recipe for kaos. I have a simple solution. We control one thing when communicating, and if we can use this and be able to control ourselves, then we will not be in kaos. I simple say listen to understand first. Listen to understand your child, your students, your spouse first. We learn from modeled behaviors. In education the student who listens to understand the teacher first in the classroom is called the teachers pet. The teacher who listens to understands their students first, is called a great teacher. The spouse who listens first, is said to be happy, in control and well informed. Listen first allows us a guarantee at information to understand and grow with. If we listen second, and the other person does not listen to us, we are no longer in control of our lives, we are at the mercy of the other person.

  4. Crimson Wife says:

    Spending on general education has not skyrocketed- what has skyrocketed are expenditures on special ed students and also on benefits for staff & their families. Neither of those two areas have any major impact on achievement of general ed students.

  5. cranberry says:

    Why would one select the SAT to judge the efficiency of the nation’s schools? It’s a test designed to differentiate between test takers. It aims to produce a normal curve. If the scores from one sitting of the SAT come in too high, the students’ scores are equated, so that one may compare scores received in one sitting to scores received in another.

    It’s a test designed to differentiate between students on the basis of the speed with which they complete the test. The College Board states, In general, a test’s time limits are appropriate if virtually all of those taking it complete 75 percent of the questions and 80 percent reach the final question. http://professionals.collegeboard.com/testing/sat-reasoning/scores/sat-data-tables

    Now, if our schools functioned perfectly, would you expect all students to score 800 on each section? I wouldn’t. I don’t even know if perfect schools could improve students’ reading speed and comprehension.

    IDEA requires schools to spend more on special ed. It was passed as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act in 1975. In addition to the expenditures Crimson Wife listed, it also increased expenditures on school sped administrators. I would not expect greater spending on Special Ed to influence the overall SAT score of college-bound seniors.

    • Shhh cranberry, you can’t go spouting facts around here!

      • I don’t think anyone would dispute those facts; the problem is that when the Middle Class parents of SAT takers are asked to vote the next bond or tax increase for local schools and we tell them it would be unreasonable to expect results, they’re going to start to vote no, those selfish SOBs. After all, haven’t we just agreed that there’s no correlation between spending and success as defined by the Middle Class?

        • cranberry says:

          In terms of a bond issue for local schools, increased spending could make sense. House hunters do pay attention to school spending. “investing” in schools could well draw more professional parents to the district, which would increase test scores, which would in turn draw more professional parents to the district. Increased professional parent interest in the school district increases local real estate values.