Is More Money REALLY the Answer to Dismal Performance in Science Education Results?

February 26 2010

Play around with the "state data tool" of The U.S. National Science Foundation's (NSF) Science and Engineering Indicators 2010 report.

Data includes 4th and 8th grade performance and proficiency in mathematics and science for up to 10 states you select; it also shows national averages.

For perspective on the concept of throwing money at a given problem, figures are given for public school teacher salaries, expenditures as share of gross domestic product and expenditures per pupil.

Out of curiosity I decided to compare the states of Illinois and Colorado - I live in one and ski in the other - on elementary and secondary education. What do you think I found?

In EVERY ONE of the 8 performance/proficiency results, Colorado came out higher than Illinois, sometimes by a substantial margin, and was also higher than the U.S. average in each of those results. (Illinois ranked lower than the U.S. average in 3 areas, at the average in 4 areas, and higher -- by all of one point -- in one area.)

Teacher salaries? They should be proportionately higher in Colorado than in Illinois, wouldn't you think?

Guess again. U.S. average public school salaries is $50,816. Colorado's? $45,833. What about Illinois teacher salaries? $58,246. That's 14.6% higher than the national average and nearly 27% higher than Colorado's.

Numbers don't lie. Or do they? Am I missing something here?

Category: Words to the Wise
Filed under: K-12 (education)