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.”
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.
|School District||Students||Spending Per Student||% FRL||CCRPI Score|
|2||Ben Hill County||3,106||$9,100||95+||69.5|
|61||Jeff Davis County||3,000||$7,973||86.7||70.1|
|81||Atlanta Public Schools||50,837||$14,713||77.2||67|
|157||Social Circle City||1,633||$9,212||48.7||78.4|
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.
I would prefer the BOE find meaningful ways to hold the bureaucrats accountable for the results they get.
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).
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).
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.
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.
DCSB sucks. Plain and simple. Incompetence at all levels.
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).
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!)