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April 5, 2005

Research shows disconnect between New York's educational spending and educational outcomes

Despite per-pupil school spending that is the nation’s second highest, New York’s return on that investment is notably below average by two key measures of school success, recent research by the Manhattan Institute suggests.

All 50 states’ academic outcomes were evaluated by two common and critical measures of school success, graduation rates and “college readiness” rates, according to the institute’s report, Public High School Graduation and College-Readiness Rates: 1991–2002. The report was researched and written by Jay P. Greene and Marcus Winters, senior fellow and research associate, respectively, of the Manhattan Institute.

The study did not measure the effect that spending has on graduation rates, but it did note that New York’s graduation rate in 2002 was 64 percent, only 41st-best in the nation and 11 percent below the national average, the study notes. The study also notes that New York State had the nation’s lowest graduation rate, 42 percent, for African-American students, as well as the lowest graduation rate (36 percent) for Hispanic students among the 18 states with enough information to generate that statistic.

And New York’s college readiness rate was 32 percent, below both the northeast regional average of 38 percent and the national average of 34 percent, the research showed.

The disconnect between educational spending and educational is especially pronounced in New York State and, in particular, in New York City, Marcus Winters said.

The research did highlight one bright spot: the effectiveness of high academic standards in enhancing the skills of high-school graduates.

“By increasing the standards necessary to graduate, schools have improved the skills of their students without decreasing their graduation rates,” the study says. “Thus, about the same percentage of students are graduating today as did a decade ago, but today’s diplomas seem to be more meaningful.