The more that is spent per pupil by a local authority, the lower the standards, the Centre for Policy Studies found.
But the report was criticised for taking no account of levels of deprivation in each authority.
Neil Fletcher, head of education at the Local Government Association, said:
"This crude statistical nonsense gives number crunching a bad name."
John Marks, author of the report Value for Money in LEA Schools in 1997, cited Sefton, Bury and York as having the best "value" primary schools. They spent just Pounds 1,490 per pupil while getting more than 70 per cent of 11-year-olds to the required standards in national tests.
In contrast, the London boroughs of Greenwich, Lambeth, and Hammersmith and Fulham, spent more than Pounds 2,420, but the pass rate was 58 per cent, he said.
"It is not just a question of deprivation: child-centred teaching methods are probably an important factor," he said.