Two decades of research into educational production functions have produced startlingly consistent results: Variations in school expenditures are not systematically related to variations in student performance. Enormous differences in teacher quality exist, but differences in teacher skill are not strongly related to educational backgrounds, amount of teaching experience, or teaching in small classes. Further, more skilled teachers simply are not regularly paid more than less skilled teachers. These findings suggest that school decision making must move away from traditional “input directed” policies to ones providing performance incentives. The concentration on expenditure differences in, for example, school finance court cases or legislative deliberations, appears misguided given the evidence.
The concentration on expenditure differences … appears misguided given the evidence.
Who what have though that evidence showed that expenditure per student was not correlated with student performance.
Expenditure per student is however highly correlated with teacher remuneration; particularly when there are fixed student to teacher ratios.
The science is settled. Can we now Gonski the Gonski “reforms”?
Although most data on the simple correlation between school expenditures and achievement show a strongly positive affiliation, the strength of relationship disappears when one controls for differences in family background.
School reform discussions that begin with the premise that constraints on expenditures are the most serious roadblock to improved student performance are, at best, misguided. Expenditure increases, if undertaken within the current institutional structure, are likely to be dissipated on reduced class sizes or indiscriminate raises in teacher salaries, with a result that growth in costs will almost surely exceed growth in student performance.
Also from Chapter 6 of this:
Paul Barton of the Educational Testing Service estimated that about 90 percent of the differences among schools in average proficiency can be explained by five factors: number of days absent from school, number of hours spent watching television, number of pages read for homework, quantity and quality of reading material in the home, and the presence of two parents in the home.
That fifth factor is supremely important, not least because it is apt decisively to influence the other four. The importance of these findings for American education is in the 9/91 factor: Between birth and their nineteenth birthdays, American children spend 9 percent of their time in school, 91 percent elsewhere. The fate of American education is being shaped not by legislative acts but by the fact that, increasingly, “elsewhere” is not an intact family. Until the government finds a way to make Barton’s five variables change, positively and quickly, the government’s various announced goals about graduation rates and math and science achievements are airy puffs of legislative cotton candy.