Does Money Matter? The Effect of School Resources on Student Achievement and Adult Success

Does Money Matter? The Effect of School Resources on Student Achievement and Adult Success

Does Money Matter? The Effect of School Resources on Student Achievement and Adult Success

Does Money Matter? The Effect of School Resources on Student Achievement and Adult Success


"This book addresses a simple question: Would larger school budgets actually boost student performance? Past research on this question suggests a striking paradox. Analysts typically find that extra spending plays only a negligible role in improving student achievement as measured on standardized tests. At the same time, other researchers find a clear and consistent pattern linking greater school spending with greater job market success among students who have benefited from higher spending. This book brings together leading scholars with a diversity of views on this important issue. Half the essays examine the relationship between educational resources and student achievement in school; the others evaluate evidence on the link between school resources and students' success after they enter the job market." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Most Americans think their schools are in trouble. Many believe students graduate from U.S. schools knowing less than school graduates knew thirty years ago. Standardized test results certainly suggest that American youngsters learn less about science and mathematics than their counterparts in other industrialized countries. Disadvantaged children in the nation's poorest schools attain abysmal scores on standardized tests of reading and math achievement.

Performance at this low level has been a spur for educational reform. In 1983 the National Commission on Excellence in Education called attention to the poor performance of American schools in its widely cited report A Nation at Risk. Since that year a variety of comprehensive reforms have been undertaken, primarily at the state level and often in states with historically underperforming school systems.

In some cases, reform has been combined with higher levels of spending. Policymakers and ordinary voters often assume American schools can only be improved if there is a substantial increase in spending on K-- 12 education. The question posed in this book is simple: Will additional money actually improve performance in the nation's schools? Does the level of resources affect the achievement or future success of youngsters who graduate from school?

Most economists take it for granted that money matters. When public schools are financed by larger budgets, taxpayers must pay heavier taxes. If the spending has no other effect, it surely reduces the net incomes of taxpayers. Social scientists are less certain that additional spending provides benefits to the youngsters who are supposed to gain from it. Are children better off as a result of larger school budgets?

Researchers hold disparate views on the effectiveness of greater school spending. The disagreement arises in part because analysts focus on different measures of school performance. But disagreement is also apparent among researchers who study the same measures of school performance. Some conclude that greater spending is useful in promoting student progress; others find little evidence that extra spending produces meaningful improvement in student performance.

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