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Modeling the Production Function: Associations Among School District Expenditures, School Resources and Student Achievement

Wenglinsky, Harold
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Academic Achievement, Educational Finance, Models, Performance Factors, Public Education


This study examines the relationships among school district expenditures, school resources, and student achievement for a nationally representative sample of fourth graders. The results of prior studies of these relationships, usually taking a production function approach, have been inconclusive, some finding expenditures and resources to be strongly related to student achievement and others finding no such relationship; because of this, some researchers have proposed alternatives to production function research. The current study, however, seeks to salvage the production function approach through addressing its shortcomings. It applies structural equation modeling to a database that is national in scope and distinguishes between different types of expenditure. It finds that some expenditures and resources, such as instructional spending and teacher-student ratios, are indeed associated with student achievement, while others are not.

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