Much attention is placed on California’s relative rank with respect to our education spending, and unfortunately, much of it based on old and incomplete data. Proponents of changing Proposition 13 often site old National Education Association (NEA) statistics that ranked California 46th in the nation on education spending. Even if one is willing to accept the data NEA is providing as an unbiased view, at least they should use the most current data available. According to the NEA website, California is 32nd based off of estimates of the 2012-13 data which places that figure at $10,744 per student.

Information put out by the Governor’s Department of Finance shows per student education spending of $11,276 in 2012-13. That is a difference of more than $500 per student.

If we fast forward to the current (2014-15) budget year that per student expenditure has raised to $13,223.13. That number will once again grow with the influx of addition general fund revenue as a result of higher taxes imposed by Proposition 30 and the improving California economy.

Will California’s relative rank improve as a result of this increased funding? Likely. But it is not always how much you spend, it is what you do with the money that matters.

Leaders in high performing schools say the difference between a high performing school and their not as high performing peers is that officials can tell you exactly what they would do with additional resources and what the desired outcome would be for their students.

So what does all this mean for policy-makers in California? How the money is spent matters a whole lot more than how much is spent.

As a result of Governor Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula, California has experienced a major shift in how public schools are funded. So far we can’t measure the impact. Following the state’s adoption of the Common Core Standards, and the development of a new assessment aligned to those standards, the state asked for and received a waiver of reporting the results for accountability purposes. This year, the state has once again asked the federal government for a waiver of reporting its results.

The Sacramento Bee recently reported that Michael Kirst, president of the State Board of Education, said earlier this year that scores should rise over time as teachers and students are more prepared. He has urged patience, saying it will take until about 2019 before the success of the new standards truly can be determined.

That may be true, but given the huge influx of resources flowing into California’s public schools, and the dramatic shift in how we fund those schools, don’t parents and taxpayers have a right to understand the impact of these policies?

The academic achievement of our students matter a lot more than the relative rank with respect to education spending.