The relationship between district -level spending and reading achievement in Tennessee's public schools

Janine Marks Wilson, Tennessee State University

Abstract

With the Education Improvement Act of 1992, the Tennessee General Assembly sought equalization of funding across the state. The Act resulted from a successful lawsuit by smaller and poorer school systems concerning funding equity. The Basic Education Program (BEP) funding formula was designed to provide an adequate, equitable, and sustainable distribution of funds to all school districts. The BEP became fully funded in 1997, and more than 90% of all state funds are presently allocated through the BEP formula. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between district-level per-pupil expenditures for instruction and reading achievement in the public schools of Tennessee. Financial and reading achievement data from the 2000 Tennessee School System Report Card for the 138 Tennessee school districts was examined. System demographic variables included ethnicity, number of pupils, and percent of students qualifying for free or reduced price meals. Funding for instruction in the three grand divisions of the state were examined separately, and the percent of local contribution to funding was compared to achievement in reading. Significant findings were: (a) a significant relationship was found between district-level per-pupil expenditures for regular instruction and normal curve equivalent scores in reading for grades K–5 (r 0.360, p < .0001) and 6–8 (r 0.435, p < .0001); (b) a significant relationship was found between district-level per-pupil expenditures for regular instruction and percent of minority students in a district (r 0.281, p < .0008); (c) a strong significant relationship was found between percent of local contribution to funding and reading achievement in grades K–5 (r 0.492, p < .0001) and 6–8 (r 0.510, p < .0001); (d) a significant relationship was found between percent of local contribution to funding and value-added gains in grades K–5 (r 0.321, p .0001); and, (e) a significant relationship was found between levels of funding in East, Middle, and West Tennessee with East Tennessee spending the most on regular instruction. A statistically significant difference was found between funding in East and Middle Tennessee districts. ^

Subject Area

Education, Finance|Education, Administration|Education, Reading

Recommended Citation

Janine Marks Wilson, "The relationship between district -level spending and reading achievement in Tennessee's public schools" (2001). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3061761.
http://digitalscholarship.tnstate.edu/dissertations/AAI3061761

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