Friday, March 18, 2016

"Throwing money at the problem" -- the solution we've never tried

I've seen the article on the new research from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth being shared online. It (again) turns out the solution that we've never fully implemented, often disparaged as "throwing money at the problem," does work:
By comparing outcomes in the states that implemented these school finance reforms and those that did not, LaFortune, Rothstein, and Schanzenbach find that the reforms had a considerable impact on the achievement gap between high- and low-income school districts. They found that increasing funding per pupil by about $1,000 raises test scores by 0.16 standard deviations—roughly twice the impact as investing the same amount in reduced class sizes (according to data from Project STAR, a highly acclaimed study of Tennessee schools in the 1980s).
I'd recommend, if you're interested in school funding and issues of equity and adequacy, giving the paper itself a read as well (don't let the equations scare you off). Not only do an increase in resources matter, they matter over time: in other words, going to a more appropriately funded school from kindergarten means a student does better than a student who only had access to those resources in high school.

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