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State funding, student performance, school effectiveness: A Massachusetts experience

Robert Joseph Siminski, Johnson & Wales University


In response to the finding in a lawsuit, McDuffy vs. Robertson, the Massachusetts legislature passed the Education Reform Act of 1993. Through funding increases designed to address inequities, student performance would improve. The Massachusetts Educational Assessment Program (MEAP), a standard measure, was used to assess student performance as a corollary of funding. This research examines the relationship among funding increases, performance on the MEAP and school effectiveness. Thus, this research examines characteristics of effective schools to consider whether increased funding in relates to increased student performance as measured by the MEAP Test. The research of Lezotte, Levine, Ornstein, and Jacoby (1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1993, 1995) has indicated that there is a relationship between the existence of correlates for effective schools and improved student achievement. The Coleman report of the 1960's indicates that schools could not overcome the influence of a family or societal background on achievement, (Libler, 1992). In an attempt to improve student achievement, the Massachusetts Education Reform Act provided for increased funding for individual school districts and changes in the governance of school districts and individual schools (Public Schools M.G.L. Chapter 71). This research examines the following: (1) school districts expenditures in budget categories related to instruction; (2) the level of state and local funding; (3) demographic characteristics of the communities; (4) performance on the MEAP. Comparison of expenditures is based on the expenditure classification system developed by the Massachusetts Department of Education for all 252 Massachusetts school districts. Data on expenditures and student performance are available from the Massachusetts Department of Education. The data is from the 1996–1997 school year. This research examines whether increased funding has had an impact on student achievement as measured by the MEAP when the characteristics of an effective school are present. The funding plan contained in the Education Reform Act of 1993 was for a period of seven years. Therefore, statistics can be generated from available data in order to determine if reforms outlined in the law have been accomplished. This research could be helpful to Massachusetts legislature committees as well as to superintendents because the general court must within the two years consider the reauthorization of the funding contained in the Education Reform Act of 1992. The research demonstrates that there is a link between the infusion of additional resources and student achievement. The correlation is strongest in the area of mathematics and reading in the regular day program.

Subject Area

School administration|School finance

Recommended Citation

Siminski, Robert Joseph, "State funding, student performance, school effectiveness: A Massachusetts experience" (2000). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI9999557.