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School District Operational Spending and Student Outcomes: Evidence from Tax Elections in Seven States

We use close tax elections to estimate the impact of school district funding increases on operational spending and education outcomes. The analysis indicates that districts where tax levies passed spent 3-5 percent more per pupil annually through 6-8 years after the election. This spending came in the form of higher salaries per employee—as opposed to more teachers or staff—and corresponds to positive achievement effects in districts with a high proportion of impoverished students. Specifically, among districts above the sample median in the proportion of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, the results imply that spending an extra $700 per pupil annually for 6-8 years leads to achievement gains of approximately 0.06-0.08 standard deviations. We find no achievement effects in districts with relatively advantaged students, and there are no attainment effects regardless of district demographics.

Keywords
student achievement, education finance, school districts, tax elections
Education level
Topics

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Abott, Carolyn, Vladimir Kogan, Stéphane Lavertu, and Zachary Peskowitz. (). School District Operational Spending and Student Outcomes: Evidence from Tax Elections in Seven States. (EdWorkingPaper: -25). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: http://edworkingpapers.com/ai19-25

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