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$$ spent per student and SAT scores

SAT Scores:Combined Reading & Mathematics divided by Expenditure per pupil in fall enrollment at public schools

Created by: Brian

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RankRegionSAT Scores:Combined Reading & Mathematics÷Expenditure per pupil in fall enrollment at public schoolsResult
7South Dakota1,191.00÷7,464.000.16
12North Dakota1,180.00÷7,829.000.15
17North Carolina1,004.00÷6,904.000.15
19New Mexico1,101.00÷7,834.000.14
27South Carolina984.00÷7,549.000.13
35West Virginia1,023.00÷9,024.000.11
39New Hampshire1,042.00÷9,771.000.11
47Rhode Island994.00÷11,667.000.09
49New York996.00÷13,703.000.07
50New Jersey1,005.00÷14,117.000.07
51District of Columbia940.00÷13,348.000.07
highest to lowest


Those Mormons in Utah are doing something right.

They spend more money per SAT point? How is that right?

Actually, they get more SAT points for their dollar. Utah gets .21 SAT points for every dollar they spend. While DC only gets .07 SAT points per dollar.

Or the struggling students just didn't take the SAT because Utah never tried very hard to educate them.

Hey Chevy, here's a novel idea: let's use this very site and its wealth of information to investigate that claim.

looks like not many Utah graduates take the SAT, but then again neither do graduates of most other states. Leaving out places with obvious government intervention/bad data (somehow I doubt every single graduate of a Maine public school took the SAT of their own volition), Utah looks pretty close to normal. This doesn't invalidate your argument of course, but it suggests more analysis is necessary. Maybe someone should do a socioeconomic mashup with SAT score data?

I live in Utah & I can tell U that less than 1% of our 5A top rated (for this state) highschool took the SAT. Those that took it, were the top students so they're scores boost our average. If you have 5 students take the test and they all score very high, the ave is high. Most Utah students are going to local colleges and trade techs or the infamous BYU so they don 't have to take the SAT's and they don't. The ones that DO take them, are the top students and foreign students who intend to go to east coast colleges or Standford. The data should include a big asterisks on Utah for this reason. It's very misleading. The schools here are underfunded. We spend less than most states in the Union and we have a lot more children due to the culture. Since the 2006 legislature cut the budget more, it's only going to get worse as we haven't felt the full effect of those cuts.

You do NOT understand the educational aspects of being Mormon. The religion stresses education as an important part of eternity. If everyone honestly believed that everything you learned on earth was part of your eternity, then they would take education more seriously. Mormons are extremely frugal and also take teaching their youth seriously. They strongly emphasize the DUTY of the parents to teach their children! I would guess unions are NOT involved in the decisions for how they educate their children LOL. The children are educated to be successful, hardworking leaders, who have morals, and a love for their family and fellow man. They stress duty and honor in doing a good job.

You also do not understand that it is the BEST and BRIGHTEST students applying to BYU. You need a 27 or 28 ACT to get partial scholarship, and over 30 or 32 to get full scholarship. BYU is extremely competitive. It IS the Harvard of the Mormon world. BYU is pulling the best and brightest because that education is then FREE and is a springboard to every Ivy League graduate program. To to homeschoolers that likely spend maybe $2,000 per student (and some do it completely FREE!!!). The first 10-20 year retrospective studies have been done to gauge their success in all areas of life. The study found that those students knew more and participated more in all areas of society, compared to public and private school educated students. They got admitted in higher percentages than public school students to Ivy league schools. They even rated their happiness in all areas of their lives, marriages, and jobs as higher. They volunteered more in all areas of society too. Why? As a homeschooler, I'll propose it is because when the parents care deeply about education, the children care. My children have all odds stacked against them. They are foreign born, adopted as teens, many have fetal alcohol syndrome or learning issues...but they see that we love learning, and enjoy doing new things, and they model that. They see that honor, duty, and family are important to us..and they mimic that. Public school has a function, but it can never replace the duty parents have to participate in the ethics, morals, and teaching of their children. NO AMOUNT OF MONEY CAN REPLACE THE DUTY A PARENT HAS TO THEIR CHILD'S EDUCATION!!!

Tell it like it is. I thoroughly enjoy meeting homeschooled young adults. The are so well rounded. One person being paid to educate up to 30 children. One person educating the child they gave birth to. Hmmm! Who do you think has the better chance of getting a great education?

Actually, you read the chart wrong. They spent the least amount of money per SAT point.

i live in utah and i want to comment on this we have 87% of students graduate high school and of those *&% only 33 % are ready for college so utah is doing something wrong in my eyes

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This is very surprising! I wonder how it might tie into other traditional factors for education, e.g. class size and use of computers in the classroom. If, for example, we imagine that computers don't actually enhance the classroom experience much and happen to be absent in most Utah schools (or alternatively that Utah teachers are underpaid) and imagine those explaining Utah's low costs per student, and further imagine that Utah classroom sizes average significantly smaller than the rest of the nation, we can more easily understand how they have both a lower cost per student and a higher SAT achievement.

Alternatively and more cynically, we could imagine Utah's school systems teaching to the SAT test rather than providing a more generic education.

I would love to see class size and SAT scores analysed on a per-state basis (maybe that's on there?)

Well, I student taught in Utah, and I can tell you that their class sizes are NOT significantly smaller than the rest of the nation, at least, not to my knowledge. I had 38 students in one class and 40 students in another class.

Poor Jersey. They're spending the most per student and SAT scores are barely above 1000.

Good thing Governor Christie is cracking down on their spending. Maybe he will get things turned around.

If the SAT's are culturally biased, it would be interesting to include cultural metrics in a chart like this. Maybe the effect of something like how many prior generations of a person's family have lived in the US. Maybe the SAT scores for the states with more first-or-second-generation Americans would be even lower if not for more spending.

Maybe part of it is just that students are capable of a certain level of achievement no matter how much money is spent; the SAT scores don't vary by much.

Education takes place in the home...

One vital statistic is missing from this: percentage of student population actually taking the SAT.

In places like Idaho and Utah, a higher number of people go into jobs not requiring a college education. This boosts the states' average SAT scores because struggling students are more likely to opt out of taking the SAT, preferring to go straight into the job market.

In a place like DC or Connecticut, where many jobs require an extremely high level of schooling, struggling students are probably more likely to take the SAT and try to go to college.

You've got to be kidding! My kids go to school with Mormon students and they are the most hardworking, happy, successful students, I've ever seen. I went to one awards ceremony and ended up asking my child if there's anything they can't do. We're not even a highly Mormon populated state and their kids cleaned up on awards LOL And they looked happy, well balanced, and normal too. My son said that they even go to classes all through high school BEFORE our school starts, from 6-7 am...then school, sports, clubs, church youth group, and volunteering in community...Face it, it's not money, or class size. It's parental dedication and example...or maybe it's just the religion...

Chevy is absolutely right. An excellent article on this topic was published by Brian Powell and Lala Carr Steelman, entitled Bewitched, bothered, and bewildering: The use and misuse of state SAT and ACT scores, in the Harvard Educational Review, 1996, Vol. 66(1), pp. 27-59.

WOW... very interesting. It's not completely true, but in the table view, as you go down, the amount spent goes up, and the SAT score goes down, which hints at a negative correlation.

Maybe kids who grow up in smaller towns have ambitions to leave, and in the places where you have a lot of material needs met already... why would you want to try to leave?

I came from a small, poor town and know that the kids who generally did well in school wanted to get OUT as soon as possible and tried their hardest to do just that. The school to the South of us was funded heavily (comparatively), and the kids were very intelligent, but they rarely ever tried to stand out in anything other than sports. I mean, they had a great deal of computers in the mid 90s, while our school had 10 in the library, but they were far more interested in hacking into other computers for nonsense -ejecting a teacher's floppy disk/CD tray to disrupt class - than doing school work.

Seriously, look at Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas. Excellent SAT scores, generally poor school districts.

The simple average combined SAT score is a highly biased measure of statewide performance. States like Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas have significantly fewer students choose to take the SAT at all. Many opt for the ACT and military or fail to graduate high school at all, thus the students who do choose to take the SAT are a highly selective group and simply can not be compared to other State populations where significantly higher proportions of the student body take the SAT to begin with.

This measure of SAT points per dollar expenditure per student leaves the inaccurate impression that more is achieved by spending less. That is nonsense. First, it is clear from these data that Utah does not, in fact, rank particularly highly in combined SAT scores (by my count it looks as if it is ~20th overall). Is this really satisfactory to the citizens of Utah? Second, this is fundamentally a misuse of statistics in which there is no attempt to account for relative fractions of students taking the test, socioeconomic status or any other relevant factor.

This got me curious, so I went and looked up the percent of high school graduates who take the SAT from each state:

I ran a multiple regression with the data and found that for every 1% increase in the percent of graduates taking the SAT in a state, the average score declines by 2.63 points. That means the state with the highest percentage (NY - 90%) compared to the state with the lowest percentage (SD - 5%) will have average SAT scores that are 221+/-18 points lower for this reason alone.

In comparison, the correlation between average SAT score and expenditure per pupil actually turned POSITIVE when the percentage taking the SAT was held constant - a 0.842 point increase for every extra $100 spent. That means the state with the highest expenditure (NJ) compared to the state with the lowest expenditure (UT) will have average SAT scores that are 75+/-28 points higher for this reason alone.

The conclusions that can be drawn from this, however, are murky at best. First of all, since educated people tend to move to states like NY and MA, the schools in these states could be starting with smarter kids in the first place. Also, how much of that extra money goes toward SAT prep classes? (Maryland, for example, gives SAT prep classes to ALL 10th graders). If UT spent an extra $1,000 per student to give SAT prep classes to all 10th graders, how much of that 75-point gap with NJ be filled? That extra $8,000 that NJ spends could have no discernible effect at all.

I just discovered this site and am amazed...or am I? Is my assumption that the data is accurate accurate? I graduated in research and testing from Florida State and my professors were so brilliant that they basically said they could take ANY study and make it irrelevant by pointing out all the bias, prejudiced data, missing data, etc., etc.

I always wondered why they were in R&T since it was all irrelevant based on their own statements.

After getting my Masters in R&T I transferred to educational psychology for my doctorate so I could REALLY experienced skewed data.

A study is only as good as its data and one never has all the data. And IF one did, there are always variables one cannot being chance.

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I live in Kentucky, often regarded as one of the dumber states. I have a lot of friends in New England who tend to be very condescending about how "smart" they are. Ha ha, I can't wait to email this to them.

This is about the most misleading educational study I've ever seen. I live in Oklahoma. Oklahoma State, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Tulsa all prefer ACT scores to SAT. In other words, the only kids here who are taking the SAT are those who are applying to schools outside the state (i.e., Harvard or Stanford). This study compares Oklahoma's best students to New York's average. What a sham.

This chart is interesting if the point is to figure out how to get students to around 1000 combined SAT without spending much money. I agree with the statistical replies above, the data is definitely skewed by the kind of students that take the SAT in each state. I know growing up in Iowa most students took the SAT. I know this isn't true everywhere.

I suspect a lot of the cost of education in the more expensive school districts is found in capital outlays. In urban areas land is more expensive, housing is more expensive, and as a result schools cost more to build, and employees must be paid more if you want them to be able to afford to live within driving distance of the schools.

I also wonder if Utah should be happy that its students score an average of 1000 on math and reading. Should this be a goal of any state? I know they spent less per point, but that sounds a bit like saying, "I paid less for my house, therefore it's a better investment." Is that score sufficient for students to compete in a modern global economy? If not, much of the money may have been spent on a product that won't perform up to spec.

I see that mid-western states (Iowa, Illinois) are the highest scoring states in the nation. They didn't spend the most, but had the best results. Iowa has a very low rate of poverty, and a high rate of higher education in parents, which correlates highly with positive results for their children.

Could students in these states have scored higher there if more money had been spent? It certainly seems possible. What price can we put on the next engineering or medical genius these educational systems help to produce? Those minds are invaluable. It's imperative we figure out how to provide the best educational system in the world, if we wish to win in the free market. That seems worthy of a significant investment of time, money, and effort, of individuals and our society as a whole.

The sooner we see how significantly a strong public education system benefits us, the better chance we have to forge into the future at the head of the pack.

do the schools get money for the higher scores their students get? my school is so concentrted in Sat scores that they kick out kids for something they did like 3 years ago if they notice they have low Sat score. they also gave laptops to those that got on the 10 scores of the school when the school is in need of seriuos maintance.

These don't mean anything. Even the company that makes the test says that there is no legitimate way to compare states by SAT score. Most of the country takes the ACT, anyway. So Iowa may only have it's top 3% taking the SAT, while the New England states will go as high as 90% taking the test.

How do the spend per student compare if you adjust for cost of living? I would imagine the cost of living is higher for a school in New England than say Idaho - with the corresponding need to spend more $$ per student since their staff salaries and other costs are higher... Thoughts?

It's the school's name that is at stake if the students' average scores are low. Way back high school our school would give incentives to the students who are part of the top 10 overall and also receive recognition together with the coaches. I remember before I've read forex broker reviews book that mentioned something about this. I forgot the what the exact statement.

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Wow! Utah and Oklahoma really do spend a lot! forex contest

Money doesn't always buy a good education it takes hard work and dedication. Mormons, even though I disagree with their religious beliefs, generally care less about money and more about their kids and families. the parents don't get divorced as often too meaning the families end up being more united. the kids are loved and supported and they are driven to work harder. the problem with too many families is that they don't care about their children. in many families both parents work the kids go off to school and when the kids come home from school the parents are too busy arguing or working or doing other things to really care about their children. the support the kids get from their families is important and plays a huge role in how successful a child is. I think instead of just throwing more money at the schools they should a) have salary caps for school chairmen and supervisors the people who don't do much and hog all the money. b) get the parents more involved in school activities, nothing wrong with having a couple of days a year for the parents to come to school with their children. c) they need to hire good teachers, and reward the good teachers. throwing more money at a bad teacher is not going to make them teach better. the problems in the education system can be fixed without more money. I mean if I am a teacher and I don't know how to teach English its not going to matter how much you pay me. if I can't teach English a million dollars is not going to change anything. by the way you can tell I am horrible at English just by reading this post.

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