Students in northeastern and northern states tend to perform better on standardized tests than students in southern and southwestern states. But experts say the correlation between spending and testing performance is not strong.I will argue in coming investigations on class size that it is small class sizes in k-3 complemented by teachers who can individualize instruction and provide innovative feedback loops that really make a difference.
The "No Child Left Behind" education reforms passed during President George W. Bush's first term have placed increased emphasis on performance on national standardized tests. Schools can be penalized if they repeatedly fail to meet targets for improving student scores.
"It's not necessarily so that states with higher spending have higher test scores," said Tom Loveless, an education policy expert at the Brookings Institution think tank.
He said Washington, D.C., has among the highest spending in the country but its students have among the lowest scores on standardized tests, while some states like Montana with relatively low spending have fairly high performance on tests.
Loveless said two areas where education spending might make a difference were in teacher salaries and small class sizes for first graders. But overall, the relationship between spending on education and test performance was not strong, he said.
First grade is not enough.