Archive for Sunday, November 27, 2005

Report finds no benefit to funding mandate

November 27, 2005


— The so-called "65 percent solution" doesn't add up, according to a new study.

Nationwide, there is a movement to require that 65 percent of funds spent on public schools go into classroom instruction.

Kansas lawmakers adopted the proposal earlier this year as a goal. The average district in Kansas pumped 60 percent of school funding into the classroom, the same as the national average.

But an analysis of test scores in Kansas and nine other states found a lack of evidence linking higher student achievement with higher proportional classroom spending levels, according to a recent report by Standard & Poor's School Evaluation Services.

Increasing classroom resources is a "laudable goal," the report said. But the report concluded "no minimum spending allocation is a silver bullet solution for raising student achievement."

The report looked at school district budgets, how much they spent on classroom instruction and compared that with state reading and math proficiency rates.

It found that students in some districts that spent below the 65 percent on classroom instruction scored well, while students in some districts that spent above the 65 percent level didn't perform as well.

The report said local issues could affect the need to vary classroom instructional spending from one district to another.

Earlier this year, after adopting the 65 percent goal, some legislators said the figure was problematic because there was debate about what should be counted as funds for classroom instruction.

One of the Senate's leading education members, John Vratil, R-Leawood, said the Standard & Poor's report did not surprise him.

He said he had never been a fan of the 65 percent initiative because it didn't count as classroom instruction the cost of school counselors, librarians, nurses, and, of course, administrators.

"These people are not window dressing. They are important to educational performance," Vratil said.

A House leader on education, Rep. Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, said the study seemed to support his view that there had been no conclusive evidence that showed a connection between funds spent on education and student performance. Vratil disagreed, saying, "Money does matter up to a certain level."

But O'Neal defended use of the 65 percent goal, saying it seemed to make sense that the state should try to make sure more funds go into the classroom. "That makes for a better learning experience for students," he said.


Jamesaust 12 years, 5 months ago

Not a surprise. Like many other governmental proposals, the point seems to be 'to do something' rather than take measured action. Why 65%? Well, because its more. More! That's it. (And its simpler than 64.795%.)

Tanzer - I don't think you understand the study, which looked at localities on both sides of the 65% number. It found no correlation in outcomes and spending above/below this magical number. There are no 'new curriculums' or 'additional funding' to implement. And there's nothing "odd" in the outcomes as they aren't correlated to the spending. Spending is important but variation within this narrow range by itself doesn't control the outcomes. (I suspect instructor quality, parental interest and focus, and the child's family's own educational background rank well ahead of paying the instructor a thousand dollars more or having an abundance of art supplies - let alone paying the school nurse or custodian less.)

Reason McLucus 12 years, 5 months ago

The entire salary structure needs to be changed to discourage the best teachers from giving up teaching to become higher paid administrators. The focus in the schools should be on the teachers and they should be the highest paid employees with the possible exception of the superintendent. Professional sports teams pay the most money to the athletes on the field. Administrative positions(such as coaches) are paid less. Players take such positions only after their playing days are over.

Lib_ee12 12 years, 5 months ago

right, lets throw administrators into that bracket too. Like they really need to be paid more. Yes, they are important, but are they really that much more important in relation to the teachers? They need to spend some of that 65% on knocking those administrators down a notch or two and re-evaluate how a school spends every penny. Much more could go to the students if the administrators didn't keep giving themselves raises.

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