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ERIC Number: ED477380
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2002-Apr
Pages: 17
Abstractor: N/A
Explaining Variability in School Performance: The Case of Pennsylvania. Allegheny Institute Report.
Gamrat, Frank
This paper analyzes cross-sectional data compiled from Pennsylvania's 501 school districts to investigate which factors influence academic performance. It also examines these factors to determine whether increased spending is the key to improved academic performance. Topics addressed include teacher-student ratios, teacher salaries, and per pupil spending. Results indicate that per pupil spending and district enrollment levels have positive but very small effects on school academic performance. For example, each $1,000 increase in per pupil spending relates to a standardized score increase of only 5.8 points, less than one-half of one percent. Thus, simply raising spending is not a cost effective way to improve education. Certain community factors, including being in a metro district and the percentage of low income students enrolled, appear to exert negative influence. For every one percent increase in the proportion of low income students, the average standardized score decreases by 1.72 points. Results confirm that social factors play a more important role in determining the district's cost effectiveness performance. Though popular belief suggests that measures such as teacher-student ratios, teacher salaries, and higher per pupil spending are areas where policy needs to be directed, this paper finds no support for these beliefs. Variable definitions are appended. (Contains 23 footnotes.) (SM)
Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, 305 Mt. Lebanon Boulevard, Suite 305, Pittsburgh, PA 15234. Tel: 412-440-0079; Fax: 412-440-0085; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Produced by Allegheny Institute for Public Policy.