The Relationship Between Money and Academic Achievement

Is there a link between Academic Achievement and Funding?

Maureen Downey with the AJC writes,

Many critics of public education contend more money doesn’t matter but new research challenges that contention. A recent National Bureau of Economic Research study compared state spending starting in 1990 and found increased funding improved student outcomes.

Harnessing little-used data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress and comparing states that increased funding for their poorest schools with those that did not, researchers found,”Using nationally representative data on student achievement, we find that this spending was productive: Reforms increased the absolute and relative achievement of students in low-income district.”

Note: These results only pertain to the students in the poorest districts. DeKalb has the second highest millage rate in the state and is far from being considered a low income school district.

Schools in DeKalb have been failing in perpetuity. Spending on education in DeKalb has gone up 20% since 2014. The general fund budget in FY2014 was $788 million. The general fund budget for FY2017 is $948 million (and we are about to raise the FY2017 another $13 million).

Increased spending is not the answer in DeKalb. Students from low income families are no excuse. Many school districts across the state have a higher percentage of students on Free or Reduced Lunches (FRL), spend less money per student and perform better academically.

The following table lists all the school districts in Georgia in order of percentage of students on Free or Reduced Lunches. 72% of DeKalb Schools students are on FRL. Note how many schools (in blue) have more students on FRL, perform better academically and spend less per student to do it.

Note: Students from low income families perform better academically in smaller school districts. Big school districts fail our most challenged students.
Note: Before we go throwing more tax dollars at education perhaps we should examine how many school districts in Georgia get far better results, with even more students in poverty, while spending less per pupil. After we understand that, maybe we could look at meaningful ways the state should hold the bureaucrats accountable for the results they get.
School District Students Spending Per Student % FRL CCRPI Score
1 Baker County 313 $12,771 95+ 59.8
2 Ben Hill County 3,106 $9,100 95+ 69.5
3 Bibb County 23,557 $8,956 95+ 60.8
4 Brooks County 2,043 $9,640 95+ 62.2
5 Burke County 4,079 $11,928 95+ 65.4
6 Calhoun County 636 $11,093 95+ 52.6
7 Clay County 245 $14,690 95+ 54.1
8 Clayton County 54,317 $7,894 95+ 64.2
9 Colquitt County 9,217 $8,972 95+ 71.7
10 Crisp County 3,933 $9,370 95+ 67.3
11 Dooly County 1,326 $9,310 95+ 49.1
12 Dougherty County 14,944 $9,366 95+ 65.1
13 Early County 2,105 $9,593 95+ 70.6
14 Evans County 1,749 $9,453 95+ 66.7
15 Greene County 2,303 $12,457 95+ 73
16 Hancock County 921 $11,612 95+ 59.4
17 Jefferson County 2,627 $9,319 95+ 66.9
18 Jenkins County 1,176 $10,401 95+ 56.9
19 Lanier County 1,676 $9,208 95+ 71.2
20 Macon County 1,461 $10,329 95+ 59.6
21 Mitchell County 2,331 $10,343 95+ 71
22 Montgomery County 1,228 $8,674 95+ 56.5
23 Quitman County 305 $14,021 95+ 64
24 Randolph County 925 $11,088 95+ 59
25 Richmond County 30,319 $8,778 95+ 62.4
26 Stewart County 481 $13,377 95+ 60.4
27 Sumter County 4,585 $9,549 95+ 60.3
28 Talbot County 497 $10,868 95+ 52
29 Taliaferro County 148 $22,995 95+ 64.4
30 Terrell County 1,372 $9,726 95+ 54
31 Toombs County 2,912 $9,158 95+ 70.8
32 Treutlen County 1,126 $7,841 95+ 60.7
33 Turner County 1,316 $10,208 95+ 71.7
34 Twiggs County 786 $12,435 95+ 58.3
35 Warren County 614 $12,188 95+ 60.5
36 Wheeler County 942 $10,578 95+ 74.6
37 Dublin City 2,399 $10,405 95+ 53.7
38 Pelham City 1,401 $9,729 95+ 75.2
39 Valdosta City 7,667 $8,614 95+ 71.4
40 Tift County 7,652 $8,471 94.7 73.7
41 Decatur County 5,051 $8,839 94.7 69.3
42 Wilkinson County 1,460 $11,110 94.4 70.9
43 Crawford County 1,652 $8,789 94.2 54.4
44 Wilcox County 1,154 $9,271 93.8 72.4
45 Telfair County 1,657 $8,961 93.8 72.6
46 Wilkes County 1,515 $10,683 93.8 69.8
47 Seminole County 1,508 $9,202 92.6 76.8
48 Worth County 3,218 $8,576 92.6 67.2
49 Clarke County 12,623 $11,513 92.1 66.4
50 Atkinson County 1,657 $9,025 91.2 83.6
51 Echols County 806 $10,133 90.5 81.9
52 Johnson County 1,109 $9,043 90.2 67.5
53 Ware County 5,853 $9,437 90.1 85.4
54 Miller County 992 $9,562 90.1 58.2
55 Meriwether County 2,722 $10,207 89.7 61.7
56 Tattnall County 3,606 $8,317 88.7 71.9
57 Grady County 4,414 $8,153 88.7 67.4
58 Emanuel County 4,079 $8,396 87.6 71.4
59 Peach County 3,621 $9,054 87.5 66.2
60 Butts County 3,347 $8,501 86.9 69.6
61 Jeff Davis County 3,000 $7,973 86.7 70.1
62 Marion County 1,407 $8,384 84.8 70.9
63 Pulaski County 1,306 $9,257 84.8 68.4
64 Clinch County 1,312 $9,141 84.7 63.2
65 Elbert County 2,927 $9,349 84.5 71.7
66 Coffee County 7,489 $8,742 84.1 78.3
67 McIntosh County 1,432 $10,516 84.0 77.7
68 Berrien County 2,989 $8,858 83.5 79.2
69 Polk County 7,595 $8,418 83.2 70.1
70 Baldwin County 5,339 $8,527 83.2 58.3
71 Rome City 6,135 $8,634 82.4 72.6
72 Washington County 3,034 $9,362 82.3 70.5
73 Brantley County 3,287 $8,972 82.0 77.5
74 Thomasville City 2,692 $9,998 81.5 69.8
75 Taylor County 1,392 $9,768 81.2 68.9
76 Thomaston-Upson County 4,093 $8,896 81.1 75.4
77 Dodge County 3,105 $8,831 80.1 70.7
78 Cook County 3,127 $8,190 80.0 75.7
79 Screven County 2,170 $9,315 79.0 71.6
80 Thomas County 5,502 $8,803 77.2 75.5
81 Atlanta Public Schools 50,837 $14,713 77.2 67
82 Long County 3,360 $7,308 77.1 67.2
83 Chattooga County 2,698 $10,109 76.9 65.3
84 Murray County 7,450 $7,587 76.4 75
85 Gainesville City 8,394 $7,935 76.3 70.7
86 McDuffie County 4,069 $8,488 75.9 61.4
87 Spalding County 9,828 $8,957 75.9 67.5
88 Dalton City 7,914 $9,077 75.8 66.1
89 Irwin County 1,684 $9,352 74.9 68
90 Bacon County 2,062 $8,989 74.0 73.1
91 Putnam County 2,740 $11,229 73.7 72.5
92 Stephens County 3,958 $8,038 73.7 74.9
93 Muscogee County 31,097 $8,658 73.4 69
94 Walker County 8,747 $9,405 72.6 73.1
95 Charlton County 1,624 $9,463 72.5 68.9
96 DeKalb County 101,014 $9,552 72.3 67.7
97 Bleckley County 2,381 $8,532 72.2 84.6
98 Appling County 3,446 $9,535 72.2 70.4
99 Whitfield County 13,398 $8,548 71.6 76.1
100 Gilmer County 4,142 $9,204 71.5 71.7
101 Lamar County 2,649 $8,407 71.2 66.7
102 Candler County 2,038 $8,218 71.0 64.8
103 Rockdale County 16,311 $9,311 71.0 76.5
104 Newton County 19,275 $8,805 69.3 70.3
105 Wayne County 5,324 $8,382 68.9 77.2
106 Chattahoochee County 852 $10,326 68.5 67.4
107 Liberty County 9,520 $9,466 67.8 72.2
108 Lincoln County 1,131 $10,036 67.8 77.7
109 Jasper County 2,293 $8,741 66.9 72.7
110 Heard County 1,920 $9,402 66.6 86.2
111 Troup County 12,042 $8,954 66.5 78.3
112 Rabun County 2,176 $11,786 65.7 75.3
113 Chatham County 36,910 $10,064 65.5 65.4
114 Gordon County 6,549 $8,460 65.3 76.1
115 Banks County 2,855 $8,829 64.0 73.8
116 Marietta City 9,087 $10,271 63.9 77.8
117 Laurens County 6,235 $8,520 63.7 73
118 Carroll County 14,414 $8,358 63.6 75.7
119 Commerce City 1,533 $8,270 63.4 77.4
120 Habersham County 6,840 $9,504 63.1 76.7
121 Bulloch County 9,953 $8,917 62.9 71
122 Vidalia City 4,407 $5,075 62.8 70.9
123 Glynn County 13,021 $9,433 62.1 78.3
124 Madison County 4,764 $9,815 62.1 79.9
125 Douglas County 26,267 $8,621 62.0 78.3
126 Hart County 3,448 $9,042 61.3 73.1
127 Union County 2,692 $11,007 60.4 78.5
128 Houston County 27,702 $8,775 60.4 78
129 Floyd County 9,643 $9,771 60.2 71.4
130 Calhoun City 4,071 $7,268 60.1 73
131 Pierce County 3,521 $8,796 59.8 83.3
132 Fannin County 2,943 $10,923 59.7 77.4
133 Hall County 27,916 $8,265 59.4 75
134 Franklin County 3,651 $9,062 59.2 79.3
135 Dade County 1,995 $9,309 59.0 78.2
136 Webster County 380 $11,223 58.7 72.7
137 Bartow County 13,560 $8,684 58.6 69.1
138 Barrow County 13,306 $8,447 58.4 75.1
139 Oglethorpe County 2,131 $9,598 57.1 78.9
140 White County 3,845 $9,602 56.8 83.9
141 Carrollton City 4,901 $8,337 56.0 76.8
142 Cartersville City 4,224 $8,912 56.0 78
143 Glascock County 558 $9,886 55.6 74.5
144 Schley County 1,282 $8,253 55.2 76.9
145 Towns County 1,025 $12,180 55.0 84.5
146 Gwinnett County 180,235 $8,377 54.5 80.5
147 Pickens County 4,266 $9,839 53.4 73.2
148 Haralson County 3,356 $9,745 52.9 73.7
149 Henry County 42,125 $8,330 51.4 72.9
150 Jones County 5,267 $8,754 51.1 80.8
151 Camden County 8,797 $8,271 51.1 81.4
152 Lumpkin County 3,758 $9,070 51.0 80.7
153 Monroe County 3,822 $10,105 50.8 73.1
154 Jackson County 7,300 $8,971 50.7 75.8
155 Lowndes County 10,259 $7,891 50.3 83.7
156 Catoosa County 10,599 $9,172 50.0 77.6
157 Social Circle City 1,633 $9,212 48.7 78.4
158 Walton County 13,495 $8,468 48.6 77.1
159 Fulton County 95,248 $10,072 47.1 74.7
160 Trion City 1,390 $8,378 46.5 79.8
161 Dawson County 3,409 $10,489 46.4 82.8
162 Morgan County 3,112 $9,929 45.9 73.6
163 Cobb County 114,410 $8,893 44.1 79.7
164 Coweta County 22,019 $8,567 42.9 78.1
165 Lee County 6,185 $7,881 42.1 79.2
166 Paulding County 28,759 $8,506 41.6 74.4
167 Buford City 4,423 $9,536 40.9 86.7
168 Pike County 3,335 $7,826 40.5 70.7
169 Effingham County 11,363 $8,498 39.6 81.3
170 Harris County 5,072 $8,939 38.4 79.6
171 Bryan County 8,644 $7,261 37.4 78.8
172 Columbia County 26,033 $7,799 33.2 83.2
173 Cherokee County 41,536 $8,293 30.5 78.1
174 Jefferson City 3,316 $7,099 28.6 87.2
175 Fayette County 20,152 $9,145 26.2 81.9
176 Bremen City 2,162 $8,023 23.8 85.1
177 Chickamauga City 1,363 $7,243 22.9 83.7
178 Oconee County 7,316 $8,438 20.5 89.4
179 Forsyth County 44,529 $7,866 16.5 91.8
180 Decatur City 4,714 $11,546 14.3 86.6

10 responses to “The Relationship Between Money and Academic Achievement

  1. Also interesting to note that while 38 districts highlighted in blue are doing more with less, only two districts are doing less with more: Chattahoochee County and Chatham County. Clearly something is inherently wrong with Dekalb County Schools.

  2. I would prefer the BOE find meaningful ways to hold the bureaucrats accountable for the results they get.

  3. Russell Carleton

    Some interesting findings from these data. The correlation between per pupil spending and CCPRI is -.30, which is moderately strong. On the other hand, FRPL percentage correlates with CCPRI at -.70. That’s a really strong correlation.

    Statistically, FRPL percentage, which is a decent proxy for poverty rate, is driving the achievement gap. Seems we’ve identified the problem. It is correct to say that per pupil expenditures don’t tell us much, but per-pupil is a very blunt instrument. The more interesting data would be on where school districts spend their money and whether that makes a difference. The more granular the data, the better. But the answer might be that the percentage of budget that goes to administration makes no difference in the CCPRI, but the percentage of budget that goes to support programs or classroom expenses does. Once we know that, we have some direction on where to prioritize what money is available.

    The data so far suggest that putting money toward the kinds of social services that help to counteract some of the concerns associated with poverty would be helpful, but we’d need more data to substantiate that claim (or its opposite).

  4. Kim Gokce (DIO's Butt Munch)

    Anecdotally, the correlation Russell notes in this data set I have seen at CK and feeders. There’s a healthy debate to be had about opportunity costs or whether these expenses are decisive in the larger scheme of performance but there’s little doubt in my view about there being an impact (positive).

  5. Kim Gokce (DIO's Butt Munch)

    Let me add that on this subject I believe it is important to avoid considering this an “all or nothing” proposition. That DCSD may struggle in governance or operations in another area is not a reason to target these “wrap around” efforts by the administration in isolation. We should demand DCSD perform well in all areas and track and measure their progress in all, too.

  6. Instead of comparing dekalb to all other counties it GA, it might be better to compare it to counties near Atlanta to filter out the potential effects of geography (cost of living, density, etc). the chart below shows all schools in counties bordering fulton. also filtered out schools with less than 1000 students because they tend to be special schools which are often selective of their students. As pointed out before there is a strong correlation between the FRL% and the CCRPI. Also, as pointed out in other posts, CKHS really is outperforming its social economic status.

  7. chamblee getting screwed

    DCSB sucks. Plain and simple. Incompetence at all levels.

  8. Russell Carleton

    Cross-posted from another thread:

    An analysis of a similar WRAPAROUND program in Boston found that for every dollar spent on providing these comprehensive services, there were three dollars in benefits. The full report may be read here: http://cbcse.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/CityConnects.pdf

    I would trade one dollar for three.

    The benefits come mostly in the form that the kids who received these services were more likely to graduate from high school. We know that people who graduate from high school are more likely to be employed (and pay taxes), less likely to rely on social welfare programs, and less likely to be incarcerated (both of which cost taxpayers money).

  9. Yep – they spend a lot of money – but it’s on administrators – not directly on students and their teachers. Very basic. Give teachers fewer students, less paperwork and more support in terms of requested supplies and support staff, and voila! children’s outcomes improve!

    No – instead, we pay RIDICULOUS salaries to ‘communications’ and ‘construction’ and other high-ranking, overpaid staff. Salaries that would in fact, pay for about 3 teachers each if our priorities changed. >>

    DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. – Parents say they have lots of questions after recent hires nearly doubled the DeKalb County School communications department’s budget for salaries and benefits. The new top communications officer makes more than the governor.

    One of the first things Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green did as the new leader of DeKalb Schools was hire the communications director from Green’s previous school district in Kansas City. Eileen Houston-Stewart filled a newly created position in 2016 with a big salary– nearly $175,000 a year. She is one of nine chief officers in the county school system with that salary.

    “I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who has my level of experience,” Houston-Steward told Channel 2’s Sophia Choi about her qualifications for her new role. “An important part is you have people that have expertise in those areas that can carry out the work that is expected, not only by the superintendent, but the board and the community stake holders.”

    Despite her rich background, some parents said it’s not money well spent.

    “She makes more than the governor?” DeKalb parent Sharon Farmer asked about Houston-Stewart’s salary. “I would like to see it spent somewhere else that’s going to benefit the children.”

    (The more things change, the more they stay the same … sigh!)

    http://www.wsbtv.com/news/2-investigates/dekalb-school-board-questions-personnel-additions-to-school-communications-department/492324727