Thursday, April 23, 2009

Achievement Gap and National GDP: Fantasy or Fact?

This recent NY Times article reports on a study that argues:
[If US] achievement gaps [of poor and minority students] were closed, the yearly gross domestic product of the United States would be trillions of dollars higher, or $3 billion to $5 billion more per day.
Looking at the actual study, however, it seems as if they are assuming a linear relationship between increase in education and increase in employment.

(See page 84 and 92 of their supporting documents. In their charts starting on page 88, they state that the outcomes they assume are "determined by assumptions about the ability to make use of higher skilled people and the quality of economic institutions.")

As I noted earlier, there is a great deal of evidence that education does not create jobs. In other words, these increases may happen on the margins, for the first few kids, but will fall off drastically after that.

I'd be interested in other perspectives. But it seems to me like this report simply feeds the fantasy of schooling, that if we just made schools better, all of our economic (and then social) problems would be solved.


Joanne Jacobs said...

It's not clear that more people finishing high school or earning a college degree will pay off; to some extent, it will water down the value of those credentials. Even if more people are educated (as opposed to credentialed), the benefits aren't likely to be linear.

However, I had another reaction to the study: Closing the achievement gap would be terrific. But how? If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.

dan dempsey said...

There is another Gap to consider the Gap of USA versus top performing Math Science nations. This is the gap that is going to be extremely significant economically in the coming years.

Economic innovation also is a big key; but it looks like more Gov. regulation and rules are on the way. So then we can talk about Situational Innovation deficit (or some such verbage).

Anonymous said...

I can't think of anyone arguing that if we just made schools better, all of our economic (and then social) problems would be solved. Do you know anyone who believes that?

karim said...

An insightfull post. Will definitely help.

Karim - Creating Power