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Wednesday, 12 July, 2000, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
Money does not raise results
Classroom
Economists say "school productivity" has declined
Increasing spending on education does not lead to improved standards, suggests long-term international research.

A study of education spending in Europe and the United States between 1970 and 1994 claims that an increase in budgets has not corresponded with a similar improvement in pupil achievement.

And it draws the conclusion that it is the standard of educational institutions, rather than the volume of financial resources, that determines improvements.

The research, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society's annual conference in St Andrews University on Wednesday, has considered the performance of education systems in terms of "investment" and "productivity".

In the United States, spending on pupils increased by 2.5% per year in real terms during the two decades considered - but the evidence of pupil ability showed no comparable growth in achievement.

Output

In econonic terms, the researchers say that expressed as "output per input" this represents a decline in "school productivity".

This economic interpretation of education, prepared by academics from two research centres in Germany, claims that "schooling productivity" has declined in the United Kingdom by 2.8%, 3.2% in Germany and 4.4% in France.

This analysis concludes that "throwing money" at education will not lead to improvements, based on the evidence of results in standardised tests within the study period.

Where there has been improvement in pupil achievement, in Sweden and the Netherlands, there has been a below average increase in spending, say researchers.

"The schooling sector can be regarded as inefficient in many countries. Our results indicate that institutions rather than resources matter for schooling outcomes. Reform should focus on institutions, not on additional expenditures," says report author Ludger Woessman.

The report, The Decline of Schooling Productivity in OECD Countries, has been written by Mr Woessman and Erich Gundlach of the Kiel Institute of World Economics and Jens Gmelin of the Kreditanstalt fur Weideraufrau in Germany.

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See also:

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