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Study finds money not always the key

May 09, 2002|BY BOB MAGINNIS

Does spending more money result in a better education. Not necessarily, acccording to an analysis by Standard & Poor's School Evaluation Servicce. The next logical question is: If it's not money that leads to higher achievment, then what is it?

The Standard & Poor analysis was done as part of a four-year, $10 million contract with the Pennsylvania Education Department. Last October, the comp[any set up a Web site with three years' worth of data on all 501 of the state's school districts.

The site - http://www.ses.standardandpoors.com/ - has information onenrollment, spending and students' results on state achievment tests. Its latest report is an analysis of that data.

The results are surprising. Sixty percent of school districts in which students had above-average scores on state achievement tests were below the state average in spending. And almost a third of the districts which spend more than the state average of $7,367 per pupil had below-averahe achievement test scores.

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Standard & Poor's officials told The Associated Press that it wouold be wrong to conclude that money doesn't matter, but the study makes clear that spending and student achievement aren't as closely linked as many believe.

Critics of the analysis might argue that in some school districts, above-average spending doesn't produce the desired results because many children come from poor families, or are otherwise disadvantaged.

But the study notes that in 31 districts and 165 individual schools, students are racking up above-average achievement test scores despite a higher-than-average enrollment of low-income children.

Seven of those low-income districts have beat achievement test average for three consecutive years, which should make it easier for state-level education officials to find out how those districts are doing it. It will take direct observation rather than statistical analysis, but thasnks to some

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