Home > Uncategorized > The Evidence Keeps Coming In: Spending and Affluence Matter…

The Evidence Keeps Coming In: Spending and Affluence Matter…

May 4, 2016

Earlier this week the NYTimes Upshot section featured an interactive graphic that had student scores by grade level on the y-axis and parent socio-economic status on the x axis… and anyone who’d followed the posts in the blog or applies common sense knows the result… but in case you don’t, here it is:

Sixth graders in the richest school districts are four grade levels ahead of children in the poorest districts.

As reported in today’s Boston Globe, the Superintendent of the highest performing 6th grade in the nation is not surprised:

Dr. Mary Czajkowski, Lexington’s superintendent of schools, acknowledged that class plays a factor in the district’s notable student achievement level. As the Times noted, the median family income in Lexington is $163,000 per year.

“We have highly engaged parents,” Czajkowski told Boston.com. “Well educated parents, who have a commitment to ensuring academic success…. These are parents that are scientists, physicists, researchers.”

Having concluded my career as Superintendent in a similarly situated public school system, I often heard those who opposed school spending attribute our schools’ performance impolitically as “the gene pool” or to what they called “the Palo Alto effect”… the parents who were doctors and college professors. As one who marveled at the resources available to the students in the district, I offered the same ideas as Lexington’s superintendent:

But Czajkowski also credited the investment in education, not just by parents, but by the district itself—specifically noting the district’s academic rigor and “robust” professional development program.

Lexington spends $17,496 per pupil, nearly 64 percent more than the national average of $10,700 per pupil, according to the most recent data. As a state, Massachusetts spends $14,515 per student.

The district I led in New Hampshire had similar spending differentials, and since retiring I have worked with many less affluent school districts… and it isn’t hard to see that the $3,000 to $6,000 more we invested in education would have provided more “academic rigor” and “robust professional development”.

Parent engagement matters… but so does money.

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