From Dr. Terry Stoops:
Getting a Good Bang for the Education Buck
It has been nearly three years since the left-leaning Center for American Progress published a superb report, Return on Educational Investment: A District-by-District Evaluation of U.S. Educational Productivity. In the report, CAP Senior Fellow Ulrich Boser made the case that decades of significant funding increases for our public schools failed to produce lasting innovation or progress. Consequently, public school systems needed to cease thinking of inputs and outcomes separately and embrace the concept that unifies them: educational productivity.
Unfortunately, Americans have been conditioned to equate the quality of education with the condition of various inputs — per-student spending, educational technology, teacher pay, class size, school buildings, and the like. Presumably, schools will succeed so long as governments furnish high tech gadgets, pay teachers a lot, have small class sizes, and construct magnificent school buildings. But no matter how many times researchers find weak empirical relationships between spending and performance, the public will insist that schools are one teacher pay raise away from educational glory.
In the spirit (and lacking the sophistication) of Boser’s report, I examined N.C. Department of Public Instruction expenditure and student performance data for each of North Carolina’s 115 school districts. For the purpose of this column, I examined districts according to their “performance composite,” the overall passing rate for tests administered in each district last year. (more…)