Fact Check: The Costing-Out Study

Today the Governor wraps up his “Tax You More Tour” with Matt Brouillette following stride for stride. Meanwhile, we’re debunking another spending myth: The Costing-Out Study proves school districts need more funding. This study was directed largely by the education establishment, and the firm hired to do the study has produced “costing-outâ€? or “adequacyâ€? studies for other states. Every study conducted by this firm reached the same conclusion, states need to spend more than they currently do, typically 20 to 40% more!

The report itself shows that districts such Wilkinsburg, Duquesne, and Pittsburgh were already spending more than the researchers determined should be necessary to achieve 100 percent proficiency scores. Yet these school’s performances were among the worst in the state.

  • During the 1980-81 school year, average per-pupil spending in Pennsylvania was $2,842.
  • During the 2007-08 school year, the average per-pupil spending had jumped to $13,183 – a 364 percent increase in just 25 years.
  • Inflation over the same period was only 141 percent.

This dramatic increase in spending has not improved academic performance. Likewise, spending differences between districts do not explain academic achievement differences, and spending across districts correlates very weakly—when it even correlates—with measures of academic performance. If more spending was the answer, Pennsylvania schools would be among the top performers in the nation. In reality, no amount of funding, whether from the stimulus or the much touted “race to the top” funds, will improve academic achievement in our broken education system.

Budget Facts 2009: State Education Spending (click here for a printable version)