The Relationship Between Spending and Student Achievement

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

John Boulmetis

Document Type


Second Advisor

Susan Gracia

Third Advisor

Minsuk Shim


Feinstein School of Education and Human Development

Department (Manual Entry)

Education Doctoral Program


Considerable debate has taken place regarding the amount, adequacy, and effectiveness of funding public schools. At the macro level, research is mixed as to whether increased funding is associated with improved student performance. In some specific cases, such as increased funding for lower class size and early childhood education, spending on specific activities has shown to be effective.

This study examined whether spending categories are associated with academic performance. Spending allocations and student performance were examined at the school level for the school years 2004-05 through 2007-08. Spending data was obtained through the Rhode Island Department of Education In$ight financial system. Student performance on the New England Common Assessment Program was used. Two models were employed: Model 1 examined the aggregate figures for the four years of data regression with a robust estimator to examine the association of the spending categories and achievement accounting for poverty. Model 2 used multiple regression with a differencing model in an attempt to control for unobserved factors such as teacher quality.

The results of the differencing Model 2 were not conclusive. Model 1 showed that spending for direct classroom instruction was a significant predictor of student achievement. Poverty was also identified as significantly negatively associated with student performance. All other allocations were either negatively associated or not associated with student performance.