Does state education funding impact student achievement?

Why is this question important? There is a general call across the nation for higher funding for schools. With large percentages of state budgets already allocated to education, increased school funding is a challenging proposition for lawmakers.

See further discussion below.

NAEP scores vs spending by state whtback.jpg

Source: NAEP Scores, National Assessment of Educational Progress Data Explorer
School Funding, 2003 U.S. Census

Results: The results reveal a modest correlation between per-pupil state funding level and the sum of eighth grade NAEP Math and Reading Scores. That is, on average, students from states with higher per-pupil funding levels had somewhat higher test scores than students from states with lower funding levels. However, many states with low funding out perform states with significantly higher levels of funding. The District of Columbia is a strong exception with very high funding levels (nearly $13,000 per pupil) and the lowest score of any of the regions covered (483).

Implications: While higher funding tends to result in higher test scores, a large grouping of top test scores are at funding levels in the middle of the range. The modest correlation of the data shows that factors in addition to funding are important in determining student achievement.

Authors: National Assessment of Educational Progress, National Center for Education Statistics, and U.S. Census Bureau

Publisher: National Assessment of Educational Progress and U.S. Census Bureau

Study Description: The results of the 2005 NAEP reading and math testing at the eighth grade level were compared across states and the District of Columbia. This data was compared with the 2003–04 per-pupil education funding levels of the states and the District of Columbia and used to produce a scattergram of student achievement for each state versus per-pupil funding level. There was no adjustments for cost of living across regions in this study.

Definitions: National Assessment of Educational Progress Data Explorer Variables:
Subjects: Reading and math
Grade: 8th Grade
Measure: Composite
Scale year: 2005
Group: States (all)
Variable: All students

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