Report Card on American Education: A State-by-State Analysis

The American Legislative Exchange Council has released their annual Report Card on American Education. The report is filled with education data – spending, inputs, academic performance – with a profile for each state, followed by 50-state tables for specific data.

Extremely insightful is their analysis of the correlation between inputs and outcomes:

Surprisingly, the data show that academic achievement cannot be accounted for by any of the measures of public investment used in this study (pupil-teacher ratio, per pupil expenditures, teacher salaries, and funds received from the federal government),either singly or as a blend. This conclusion is borne out when variations in average SAT scores per state are tracked over the past two decades alongside changes in these measures of public investment. If anything, this statistical analysis demonstrates a positive, but weak, relationship between student success and percentage of federal funding, and pupil-teacher ratio – yet not in the manner one would anticipate. The information shows that higher student scores on standardized tests correlate mildly with more pupils per teacher and less federal involvement with public school budgets.

If infusing more money into school budgets, providing higher teacher salaries, reducing pupil-teacher ratios and spending more federal dollars to bail out public schools has not led to student achievement in the past, how can it be expected to do so in the future? Dogged perpetuation of failed policies wastes public dollars; worse, it further delays the implementation of valuable new approaches to help American students succeed.