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More dollars, more graduates

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on Oct. 18, 2012 at 11:25 am |
October 18, 2012 12:35 pm

Does more money spent on public schools translate into better performance by students?

People have been arguing over that question for decades. The Washington State Institute for Public Policy – which does non-partisan research for state government – just published what looks like a thorough “meta study” of other research, including some from other countries.

It did conclude that more money can make a difference, though mostly when it’s targeted toward lower grades. Spend 10 percent more, and WSIPP estimates the high school graduation rate could be raised from 76.6 percent to 79.5 percent. That’s not a huge gain for the billions involved. But WSIPP was assuming the state’s existing K-12 policies – including union-style, one-size-fits-all salary schedules – wouldn’t change.

In earlier studies, WSIPP found that measures to improve teaching effectiveness can have enormous impact on student performance. So it’s not just a matter of more money.

Note the graph on page 2, which shows that Washington’s spending per student has slipped dramatically compared to other states since the 1950s.

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