DebSF -- January 20th, 2011
The Center for American Progress is releasing the results from a first-ever attempt to evaluate the productivity of almost every major school district in the country. According to the report, nearly every K-12 school district in the country with more than 250 students was included.
The full report, authored by Ulrich Bosser, is accompanied by an interactive mapping app, allowing for some interesting comparisons. Same-sized school districts with similar results often spend vastly different amounts per pupil, and high-spending districts are often inefficient if measured by achievement and outcomes.
Here’s Virgina (click to enlarge). “Adjusted” per pupil spending means it’s been “adjusted for differences in cost of living and student needs;” the specific methodology is described in great detail in the report. The closer the district plots to the top of the graph, the better it scores in the state achievement index. The closer to the left axis, the less money it spends per-pupil . The top-performing district in VA is Falls Church (the yellow dot up in the north-east corner), spending $11,760 per pupil and scoring 95 on the achievement index. Hanover County, by contrast, scores 94 but spends just $7,239. The lowest performing district in the state is Petersburg, spending a nearly identical $7,205 but scoring 70 on the state achievement index.
Here’s Harrisonburg, with close to average spending and achievement levels for the state:
And here’s Rockingham County, with slightly higher achievement levels and lower per-pupil spending than the city: