Wednesday, June 22, 2016

NEPC answers the question "Does Money Matter?"

The following post presents research or analyses from outside KASB and is presented for information purposes.  KASB neither endorses nor refutes the conclusions or recommendations contained herein.
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This month, the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) released a research review entitled "Does Money Matter?" The report gives a very good review of the debate related to the connection between school funding and student outcomes. You can read it here.

The report notes the 1966 Coleman Report, which found that outside-of-school factors had a much higher impact on student outcomes than school-level factors, marks the beginning of the current debate. Eric Hanushek's 1986 article which asserted "variations in school expenditures are not systematically related to variations in student performance" is reported as a widely cited and influential. Others, including Hedges, Laine, Greenwald, Baker, and Welner have published work that contradicts this finding.

By the 90's, the author states, the debate moved from "does money matter" to how much and where money matters. He indicates the following as conclusions and recommendations:

  • Adequate and equitable distributions of school financial resources are a necessary underlying condition for maintaining democracy, improving school quality and equality of outcomes.
  • While specific results vary from place to place, in general, money does matter and it matters most for economically deprived children.
  • Gains from investing in education are found in test scores, later earnings, and graduation rates.
  • The largest gains in achievement have been in states that have undertaken fundamental financial reforms.
  • In any case, money must be spent wisely. In some cases, necessary expenditures (facilities, administration, etc.) will not be reflected in academic gains.
  • Among the most productive investments resulting from increased spending are
    • High-quality preschool
    • Small class sizes – particularly in lower grades and for economically deprived children.
    • Teacher pay
    • Additional learning time has a positive effect on academic motivation and low - performing students.

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