Tuesday, December 07, 2010

An interesting result on education

I quote:
McKinsey says, throwing money at education does not seem to do much good, at least in those countries that already send all their young people to school (see chart). America, for example, increased its spending on schools by 21% between 2000 and 2007, while Britain pumped in 37% more funds. Yet in this period, according to PISA, standards in both countries slipped.
The graph is interesting, but I think hard to interpret correctly. Public spending per student depends in part on the per capita GDP, since people providing services are paid more in more affluent countries. The quote also should be understood in terms of the increasing per capita income of the nation. I would also wonder about the time lags in improving educational performance by increasing teacher pay.

In theory, one would increase school performance by incentives by providing financial rewards to teachers whose students learn more. Increasing the pay rates for all teachers might not do that. Some school systems in the United States seem to be doing better by providing incentive pay to teachers.

There is also the issue of what PISA measures. Does it in fact measure the intellectual abilities we most want the schools to produce? I also wonder whether we might best compare the small countries in Europe with high PISA performance with comparably sized states or regions in the United States with high performance.

Still, it is of concern that the United States is not doing better on the PISA tests and that the increase in school funding has been accompanied by slipped PISA standings.

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