What's New

Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

June 18, 2004

Report questions return on New York's $14 billion investment in schools

New York's hefty investment in public schools and school aid increases at twice the inflation level "have not purchased significant achievement," according to a new analysis by the Rochester-based Center for Governmental Research.

New York has raised school aid over the past decade at twice the rate of inflation leading to per pupil spending that is 41 percent above the national average, the analysis said.

"Given this level of spending, taxpayers should expect New York State to outshine other states in student achievement," the analysis said. Unfortunately, many of the most reliable comparison measures aren't available in New York. "On those comparisons that do exist, student achievement levels often fall short of expected levels."

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which annually tests a sample of students nationwide, shows that New York is usually "only in the middle of the pack," the report said.

For instance, in 2003 Math 4 and Reading 4 NAEP tests, 26 and 17 states, respectively, scored higher than New York.

"Several states did better than NYS on all four NAEP tests, despite their higher pupil/teacher ratios, lower per pupil expenses and lower average teacher salaries (e.g., New Jersey, Massachusetts, Minnesota)," the report said.

In addition, the report said, an Urban Institute study recently found that New York has the worst graduation rate for black and Hispanic students in the entire nation. An abstract of the Urban Institute's study can be found at www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=410936.

The report suggested the state adopt and adhere to higher academic standards as well as giving priority funding to programs with proven cost effectiveness and impact on academic performance.

The Public Policy Institute, the research affiliate of The Business Council, reported in May that school districts across New York State plan to raise spending by 2.5 times the rate of inflation, and increase property taxes an average 8 percent.

The proposed 2004-05 budgets represent the second consecutive year that public schools outside the Big 5 districts (New York City, Buffalo, Yonkers, Rochester and Syracuse) would increase spending by a total of more than $1 billion, School Tax Watch noted.

The Public Policy Institute's report on school spending is available in pdf format at www.ppinys.org/taxes/schooltax2004.pdf.