A new study on educational spending sponsored by the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, suggests that strong ties within the broader community can prompt some schools to produce better results than others, given the same amount of funding. The new report examined student performance in 9,000 school districts that teach 85 percent of America's K-12 students resulting some interesting findings:
A few of the study's most significant findings:
• The least-productive districts across the nation spend 3 percent more of their budgets on administration and operations than better-performing districts.
• Poor students are more likely than wealthier ones to be attending an unproductive school district. More than a million students overall are attending schools the study labeled as unproductive.
• More spending -- above a certain threshold -- does not guarantee higher productivity. More than half the school districts in the study showed no relationship between the amount of money spent and student achievement. For example, two very similar school districts of about 10,000 each in Wisconsin produced students with virtually the same average test scores. But one district, Eau Claire, spent about $800 million more than Oshkosh did.
• Especially productive school districts appear to share some traits, according to the study's authors. These districts were often located in "supportive communities" and spent about 3 percent more of their budget on instructional costs -- e.g., teacher salaries, curriculum materials -- than lower-performing districts did.
Here are some more interesting traits found in successful districts:
Strong community relations
Many of the highly productive districts worked closely with their communities to help maximize education spending.
A willingness to make tough choices
Reducing spending while maintaining strong outcomes takes fiscal acumen, political savvy, and a willingness to make hard choices.
A priority on quality instruction
The country’s highly productive districts devoted 3 percentage points more of their budget to instructional costs than did the least efficient districts.
Smart use of data
Most of the highly productive districts reported having sophisticated data systems that provided detailed information on a variety of school outcomes, from parent satisfaction to student success in college.
This year-long study is chock full of much more information. To read about it and download the report visit the link below found at the Center for American Progress website.
Return on Educational Investment
A District-by-District Evaluation of U.S. Educational Productivity
Interactive Map: Check out DeKalb County's ROI here