School Spending Up, Test Scores Down, by Terence P. Jeffrey

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Thirteen-year-old children in American public schools were not quite as good at math and reading in 2019 and 2020 as they were in 2012.

This is despite the fact that American taxpayers invested more money per pupil in the nation’s public schools in each of the last two fiscal years than they did in 2012.

Bottom line: Increased spending on public education did not pay off.

In fiscal 2012, according to the Census Bureau, the United States spent $10,608 per pupil in its public elementary and secondary schools. In fiscal 2020, in the 35 states and the District of Columbia that have so far reported their totals to the Census, the per pupil spending was $14,455.

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In fiscal 2019, the latest year for which the full national numbers are available, the United States spent $13,187 per pupil in its public schools.

Even when you adjust the $10,608 spent per pupil in 2012 from June 2012 dollars to June 2019 dollars, it still equals only approximately $11,841 per pupil. That means real per pupil spending in American public schools in 2019 was $1,346 more than it was in 2012.

But back in 2012, 13-year-old students in public schools scored an average of 261 out of 500 in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress long-term trend test. In 2020, according to the results published last week by the National Center for Education Statistics, they scored an average of 260, a decline of one point.

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