(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
So I’ve been cooking up some new charts on NAEP statewide cohort gains for math and reading by state K-12 per pupil spending trends. Imo the cohort gains are pretty good overall measure of statewide school quality, albeit not a perfect one. Student demographics influence all scores, but if school quality is going to assert itself they should have less of an influence on 8th grade scores than 4th grade scores simply because the kids have been in school longer. Thus question addressed along the horizon in this chart is how much math did your state’s students learn between 4th grade in 2009 and 8th grade in 2013? This is plotted against the trend in per capita spending between 2007 and 2014 per NCES.
So let’s note a few things here. First once again there is a lack of a discernible relationship between spending trend and academic outcomes. You had some states that made bid increases that bombed, and others that made big cuts and lead the nation in gains (take a bow Arizona educators and policymakers!)
Maybe this was a fluke. What happens if you do it again for math cohort gains between 2011 4th graders and 2015 8th graders?
Using my Professor X mutant super-power, I am reading your thoughts. You were thinking “Okay Ladner we get it something good is going in math. What about other subjects?” Fair enough- we can only do cohort gains in math and reading, so here is the cohort reading gains:
Well would you look at that- tied for second. Cohort gains are one method for measuring gains, but we can also look at over time gains for different cohorts of students, which allows us to bring in 4th and 8th grade science. Here is what those look like for the entire period we can get readings on all six tests (new results will be released in January 2017):
Can Arizona keep it up? I certainly hope so and we will find out in January.
Looking only at 4th grade strikes me as looking for your car keys under the street light. We’ve seen a number of interventions produce effects on outcomes in 4th grade that disappeared by 12th grade – the only time they start to really be “outcomes.”
The first three charts use the gains between 4th and 8th grade, and the last chart is all the subjects/grade levels we have at the state level NAEP data available.
Oops, I misread your first paragraph. Will strive to be more thorough!