Spending More Money Gets Us Better Education, Right?
On Monday, GoLocalProv.com released their annual high school rankings for Rhode Island. 51 public high schools ranked on a variety of factors. I was speaking with a friend of mine from Cumberland and we were lamenting our home town’s disappointing ranking at 34th. “That’s what you get when you have the lowest per-pupil spending” he mentioned. Which then got us thinking. Is that true? Does Cumberland rank 34th because it has the lowest per-pupil spending rate at $11,090? So we decided to take a look and test correlation.
The correlation we tested was per-pupil spending against the GoLocalProv rankings. Argue against how they ranked them all you want, but they are what they are. The Barrington and EG schools are at the top and the Providence schools are near the bottom of the rankings, as we often see.
If you want to brush up on correlation, here’s the Wikipedia page.
What we found when we did the correlation was a -0.14 relationship. Very, very weak. If you want to conclude anything, spending more money does not get you a higher ranking on the GLP charts. If anything, in a very, very weak way, more money gets you a lower ranking. But just for the sake of the argument, let’s call it no correlation at all.
We hear of people in education telling us that if we just spend more on education, we’ll get better results. Even though, we are one of the top spenders in the country for education and we have some of the worst results in the country for that money.
Also, when schools are in trouble, like in Central Falls and some in Providence, we’re told that the problem is more with the student’s home life and with the parents. When the Central Falls teachers were all laid off, we were told they were just scapegoats for inattentive parents or parents who didn’t value education. The teachers are scapegoats for lazy kids according to others.
If that’s the case, the problem is with bad parents, then how will throwing more money at the problem solve it? The teachers have told us that the problem isn’t with them, the problem is with the parents. The solution is that we should spend more on the schools? The top ranked school in the state spends less per pupil than the last ranked school. The school paying the most is ranked 21st. Similar examples are seen throughout the chart. I know there are other factors that go into good schools, but this doesn’t point to “more money” being the solution.