But Things Will Be Different This Time, Trust Me

March 1, 2010

"There's a tradition in education," former New York City school chancellor Frank Macchiarola once observed, "that if you spend a dollar and it doesn't work, you should spend two dollars; and not only that, you should give those two dollars to the same person who couldn't do the job with only one."

That tradition is alive and well in Oklahoma. Cato Institute scholar Andrew J. Coulson recently investigated the relationship between spending and student achievement in our state. The results are charted below.

"The NAEP test results for students at the end of high-school have never been broken down by state-they're only reported nationwide-so for the achievement measure I used the ACT," Coulson explains. "Oklahoma's participation rate in the ACT is high (between the mid 60s and low 70s), hasn't fluctuated wildly over time, and is not significantly correlated with its actual scores (I ran a regression to find out), so it's a reasonable measure. I've only carried it back to 1990 because the ACT was redesigned in that year, making the scores discontinuous."

You can see that since 1990 (which, incidentally, is the year HB 1017 was signed into law) spending has risen dramatically while performance has remained essentially flat.

And we're supposed to believe more money is the answer?

Change in Education Revenue