No Correlation Between PA School District Spending and Performance

Tracie Mauriello of the Post-Gazette raises a source of dispute, via Twitter, on education spending vs. performance:

pgPoliTweets: Rendell: Ed achievement is correlated to ed spending. Senate Rs: Not so. Philly has high spending & low scores.

Correlation is pretty easy to test for (though mind you, it doesn’t imply causation) using the newly released PSSA results from the Pennsylvania Department of Education for school districts and the latest data on Pennsylvania spending by school district (unfortunately 07-08 data).  For the record, I would have expected a small, but positive correlation; high-spending districts – or so the conventional wisdom dictates – have higher average income families, and higher incomes correlate very strongly with better academic performance.

But the correlation between total per-pupil spending and the percent of students proficient or advanced revealed remarkably little correlation – almost near zero in all age groups.