An archive of articles and listserve postings of interest, mostly posted without commentary, linked to commentary at the Education Notes Online blog. Note that I do not endorse the points of views of all articles, but post them for reference purposes.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Exposing Hanushek: WHAT?! HANUSHEK SHOWS UP AGAIN? 'STAR' STATE WITNESS AGAINST FAIR SCHOOL FUNDING
WHAT?! HANUSHEK SHOWS UP AGAIN?
'STAR' STATE WITNESS AGAINST FAIR SCHOOL FUNDING
When parents and school
districts go to court trying to win fair funding for under-resourced
schools and the opportunity to learn for all children, Dr. Rick
Hanushek, an economist at the conservative Hoover Institution, usually
gets a phone call. All
across the country, State defendants pay him to testify as an expert
witness in lawsuits seeking educational opportunity for urban and rural
For perhaps the 19th time---he's lost track---Hanushek showed up to testify a few weeks ago, this time in Colorado's Lobato
case. He claimed he could find "no correlation" between funding and
student achievement. That's not surprising since he didn't look at
achievement. He looked, instead, at Colorado's MGPs, or median growth
percentiles,* which do not measure student achievement.
When a plaintiff witness used the same Colorado dataset that
Hanushek had used, she found a strong correlation between Colorado
spending and student test scores. The key was that she looked at the
actual student scores.
In the days before Hanushek took the stand, several Colorado school
ict superintendents testified about the needs of their students; how
state cuts forced them to cut essential, real-world programs; and how
they would use increased funding to help more of their students reach
the state's learning standards
On cross examination, Hanushek admitted knowing almost nothing
about Colorado education. But he was sure of his decades-long theory
that improved funding does not lead to better student achievement. Never
mind strong evidence to the contrary.
He also testified that urban school districts in New Jersey can spend whatever they want. Laugh Out Loud.
But Hanushek got one number right. He said he's being paid $50,000
for his analysis (the MGP stuff) and testimony. Too bad the State of
Colorado didn't spend that money on educating its kids.
MISSTATING THE FACTS
Hanushek sometimes testifies that
per-pupil U.S. education spending has increased four-fold since 1960,
and that student achievement is at about the same level as in 1970.
He's wrong on both points.
In fact, spending has increased about two-fold, and that increase
has helped fuel the dramatic increases in test scores and narrowing of
test score gaps that public school students have achieved since 1970.
Oh, you hadn't heard? Well, the media doesn't report it.
Importantly, over half of the spending increase was needed to fund
the major improvements we have made in schooling for students with
disabilities. Many of these children, especially those with the most
severe disabilities, were not even in schools before and during the
To make his point on flat achievement, Hanushek misrepresents NAEP**
results to claim that test scores are flat. In fact, on
these exams U.S. "students have improved substantially, in some cases
phenomenally. In general, the improvements have been greatest for
African-American students, and among those, for the most disadvantaged."
(Rothstein, Fact-Challenged Policy) See, also, NAEP Scores Are Up and Minority Scores Are Up, Media Blind to Gains.
Note that Hanushek's "four-fold" testimony was in South Dakota in
2008, while he was accurate in Colorado in saying "two-fold." He
testified that U.S. scores were flat in both cases.
*MGPs are explained briefly in the trial transcript at pages 5714-5751, especially 5722-5727. **NAEP is the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a series of exams taken by a nationwide sample of students.