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Modeling the Relationship Between School District Spending and Academic Achievement: A Multivariate Analysis of the 1992 National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Common Core of Data NAEP

Wenglinsky, Harold
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Academic Achievement, Educational Finance, Grade 8, Linear Models, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Performance Factors


In the wake of the Coleman Report, which found student socio-economic status (SES) to play a large role in student performance and the economic resources of the school to play a small or non-existent one, sociologists of education have tended to assume that inequalities in the economic resources of school districts do not reinforce inequalities in achievement between high SES and low SES students. Yet there is in fact a lack of consensus among educational researchers as to whether or not economic resources are associated with student achievement. This study attempts to test the hypothesis that money does matter, by applying the statistical technique of linear structural modeling to a nationally representative sample of eighth graders from data drawn from the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Common Core of Data. The analysis finds that the data support the hypothesis that per-pupil expenditures on instructional and central office administration are positively related to small class size, which in turn is positively related to academic achievement.

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