Blog

Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12

Betsy DeVos. Donald Trump. The Every Student Succeeds Act. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states.

Education

Did the Recession Hurt Test Scores? A New Study Says Yes. By a Lot.

By Daarel Burnette II — September 25, 2019 2 min read

Those dramatic budget cuts during the Great Recession that sent waves of layoffs throughout the country significantly hurt academic outcomes for low-income and black children, a new study published by the American Educational Research Association says.

Politicians and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have repeatedly claimed that more money alone can’t ultimately impact academic outcomes, despite growing evidence that it can. The study shows that districts with the most severe budget cuts during the recession that lasted between 2007 and 2010 also had the worst testing outcomes. The study’s release comes shortly after a separate study by Stanford University that shows the achievement gap between black and white students is caused by concentrated poverty.

For the AERA study, researchers studied test scores of students in grades 3-8 in more than 2,500 counties and found that districts with the biggest budget cuts experienced a loss of approximately 25 percent of the expected annual academic gains compared to districts least affected by the recession. This impact was more severe in districts that were majority poor and at least 39 percent black. The researchers studied test scores provided by the Stanford Education Data Archive that allows a comparative analysis of test scores between districts and states.

“Our results reinforce what other recent studies have demonstrated: that there is a link between educational spending and student achievement,” Kenneth Shores, a professor at Pennsylvania State University said in a statement. He conducted the research with Matthew Phillip Steinberg, a professor a professor at George Mason University.

During the recession, sales, income, and property taxes—revenues school districts are heavily reliant on—plummeted, forcing districts to lay off more than 300,000 staff members across the nation.

The timing couldn’t have been worse.

The No Child Left Behind Act, which instituted reading and math goals for schools, was in full swing and states were rolling out the Common Core standards. Many have attributed the lackluster academic outcomes of those initiatives to the lack of funding for state departments that had to implement them and the staff turnover at some of the nation’s most struggling schools.

“Our findings suggest that greater fiscal support should be targeted to schools that not only serve the most vulnerable student populations but that also are located in communities that are the most vulnerable to the adverse consequences of an economic recession,” Steinberg said in the statement.


Follow us on Twitter @PoliticsK12. And follow the Politics K-12 reporters @EvieBlad @Daarel and @AndrewUjifusa.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read