An Examination of Vertical Equity Funding Policies in Urban Districts Within Elementary Schools
Arbuckle, Jonathan Lance
University of Kansas
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
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No Child Left Behind has brought with it political pressure on school and district personnel to increase student performance. This legislation has made individual school accountability a focus by attempting to mandate the reduction of the achievement gap between various groups of students. As a function of this pressure, more and more researchers and government officials have focused attention on various inequalities in resource allocation. One focal point has been the call to improve the equity within a district (intra-district) rather than spend more time and resources on equity issues between districts (inter-district). To that end, the weighted student funding (WSF) model for allocating school budgets has been considered by several authorities, both educational and political, as the answer to the question of equity. The goal of this dissertation is to evaluate the vertical equity of districts utilizing a weighted student funding model when compared to like districts in the same state. Some evidence from this dissertation reveals that when using regression models for school level expenditures, teacher quantity, and teacher quality measures, districts utilizing a weighted student funding mechanism may be more successful at enabling vertical equity than similar districts not using this funding model. Further evidence suggests that while districts utilizing a WSF mechanism may be targeting funds to schools, they may be doing so utilizing non-human resources. Based on the results, the dissertation concludes with a profile of districts that may enable more vertical equity than WSF districts when utilizing a funding mechanism other than weighted student funding.
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