NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Jurists Verses Educators On School Spending

May 8, 1997

The New Jersey Supreme Court has directed that more school money be channeled to poorer school districts in that state. But current education research suggests that unless new money is put into specific programs like math enrichment, or budgeted toward specific goals like reducing the size of classes, it is likely to be diverted to salaries or more bricks and mortar -- which generate little direct gain in student achievement.

  • An analysis by University of Rochester economist Eric Hanushek of several hundred independent studies found no consistent evidence that more money, beyond a certain level of spending, led to higher student achievement on standardized tests.
  • Another study, done in Tennessee, found that scores of students assigned to smaller classes rose sharply at the end of the first year -- thereafter, though, the gains were only marginal.
  • Yet another review of previous studies, conducted at the University of Chicago's Department of Education, suggests that an extra $500 per pupil increases student scores by several percentage points -- which would translate into a 10 percent, or $25 billion, spending increase if instituted nationwide.
  • While a few studies suggest a link between class size and student achievement, there was almost no link with teacher salaries, teacher experience or outlays per pupil.

The New Jersey decision will result in an extra $1,000 or so per pupil channeled to the poorest districts -- for a total of about $250 million in extra state spending next year.

Source: Peter Passell, Money Doesn't Buy Test Scores, Studies Say," New York Times, May 28, 1997.


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