Study: Achievement doesn’t rise with spending

There’s no connection between education spending and student outcomes, according to State Education Trends over the past 40 years, an analysis by Cato’s Andrew Coulson.

cato institute study on school spending1

Spending has nearly tripled in inflation-adjusted dollars and the number of school employees has almost doubled since 1970. However, reading, math and science scores have been “stagnant” for 17-year-olds, writes Coulson. “In virtually every other field, productivity has risen over this period thanks to the adoption of countless technological advances — advances that, in many cases, would seem ideally suited to facilitating learning.”

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  1. I’d invite Mr. Coulson to offer some credible hypothesis for the reason expenditures have no connection to results but something about the public education seems to suppress cognitive function in its critics.

    There’s endless research, resultant outrage, but not much in the way of conclusions.

    Any rocket surgeons out there care to hazard a guess or two?

  2. If you want to see the link between spending and outcome (and how it failed), read this link:

    Money And School Performance:
    Lessons from the Kansas City Desegregation Experiment

    • If that’s a reply to my post then it’s misguided.

      I’m familiar with the absence of a connection between expenditure and results. What’s lacking is a credible hypothesis to explain the phenomenon. Mr. Coulson’s belaboring a subject that’s already been adequately belabored. It’s the reason – any reason – for that lack of connection between inputs and outputs I’d like to see addressed.

      • The increased spending isn’t going to the kids, or even in most cases to their education. The increased money is paying for more administration, and more bureacracy.

        • That doesn’t stop them from trotting out the “it’s for the kids” guilt trip, though, when referendum time rolls around. Consequently, the admins are collecting more for doing less (since there are ever-increasing numbers of them), while many teachers dig into their own pockets to cover for classroom supplies for their students.

          Paying to educate kids is one thing. Paying admins with pseudo Ph.D.s to sit around and wreak mischief by doing things like implementing cockamamie educlaptrap and harassing male students about pretend guns is a whole ‘nother matter.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    I dunno. Maybe each kid has a max educational level which the ordinary school experience is going to fill up. Extraordinary school experience would fill it up further, but we’re not talking about that here.
    And maybe the max educational level is already decided when the kid shows up for kindergarten.

  4. Since 1970, the severely disabled kids who had either remained at home or were in institutions (prior to the 70s closure of such institutions) have now entered school for the first time. Spec ed laws were passed, mandating services and spawning a big spike in school personnel, but the hard truth is that the most severely disabled will never be able to pass any meaningful academic standards.

    Also since 1970, there has been a continuing flood of illegal immigrants who are likely to be only minimally literate/numerate in Spanish (~85% of illegals) and less than that in English, so we are dealing with a continued influx at the lower end of the academic spectrum.

    There is also the disintegration of the family, particularly the black family in the inner cities, due to the various Great Society programs. which have spawned a toxic culture of illegitimacy, drugs, violence and general dysfunction. Schools are filled with a level of disturbance and violence that was unimaginable in the 50s. The illegitimacy and family/community breakdown has spread into the Hispanic and white populations, although not necessarily with the same level of crime.

    In addition, the removal of leveled (academically homogeneous) grouping – to avoid unpleasant demographic realities – has removed the idea that our brightest and most motivated kids should be academically challenged.

    Naturally, in addition to all of the above, the bureaucracy has grown ever fatter, because it is the nature of bureaucracies to increase in number and expand in influence.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      Agreed. So perhaps the assessments should be after discarding the results of the bottom, say, twenty percent. The latter include the handicapped, the indifferent, the intentional non-learner. To presume these are the same kids who showed up in Evansvile, IN, elementary school to read Dick And Jane fifty years ago and necessarily will respond similarly to education is freaking nuts.