Tuesday, January 30, 2007

More on Funding vs Performance

The school funding controversy in Ohio was taken to a higher level in 1991 by the DeRolf lawsuit, which originated in Perry County. The claim is that some school systems fail to live up to the standards required in the Ohio Constitution, and that it is the duty of the state government to fix the situation. I happen to agree with both of those claims. However, it has been presumed that these problems can be fixed by sending poor-performing districts more money.

In his excellent correlation analysis, Blue Bexley reported two important relationships: a) more funding does not necessarily cause a school system to perform better; and, b) the more the funding is captured from local sources, the better the performance of a school system. He was surprised by this outcome, as would most people who believe the proposed school funding amendment will fix all that is wrong with our public schools in Ohio.

Here are some facts about Perry County school systems (data from the Ohio Department of Education website):
  • Northern Local School District spends $7,780 per student for its 2,300 students, and received an Excellent rating on the state report card;
  • Southern Local School District spends $9,566 per student for its 1,100 students, but is on Academic Watch.

Why is it that Southern Local can spend nearly $2,000 (23%) more per student than Northern Local, yet be performing so much worse? Clearly, we don't have enough data to answer that question, but the indication is that money alone isn't the solution.

Here's some data about Franklin County schools:

  • Dublin City Schools: $11,539 per student, Excellent rating
  • Columbus City Schools: $11,918 per student, Academic Emergency
  • Hilliard City Schools: $9,806 per student. Perfect score overall

Again, there does not seem to be a correlation between money spent and performance. More money will not solve the problem.

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