For all the empty rhetoric during state elections over public school funding and demands for more money, a Cato Institute analysis provides a fresh perspective on the correlation between state spending and SAT scores over the past 40 years.
And that correlation? There is none — certainly not one that suggests more money is the answer to improving student achievement.
Overall, SAT scores declined on average by 3 percent from 1972 to 2012 while inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending more than doubled, according to the report, “State Education Trends.”
Despite a “torrent of (technological) progress, education has remained anchored to the riverbed,” the report states.
Moreover, during multi-year school funding declines in Alaska, California, Florida and New York, none saw noticeable declines in SAT scores.
And while Pennsylvania ranks near the top among states in per-pupil spending, students score worse on average on the SAT today than they did in 1972, notes Elizabeth Stelle of the Commonwealth Foundation. This, when the newly minted state budget sets a record for public school funding — $10.04 billion, which is $290 million more than the prior year.
What's sorely needed isn't a larger check from taxpayers but a better check on school spending with an eye toward advancing school choice and, with that, the benefits of competition.
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