Schools’ API Scores Correlated with Funding

However, many education experts say more money doesn’t necessarily mean more academic success.

The ’s academic performance index (API) score of 2010-2011 from the year before, yet was still lower than the majority of districts surrounding it. And the district has made no secret of its to the neighboring districts.

But is there a correlation between a district’s funding and its academic performance?

The Redwood City School District received $5,251 per student during the 2010-2011 academic year, less than a third of the amount the Woodside Elementary School District received. The average state funding per student was $8,452, reported the investigative organization, California Watch.

Woodside Elementary scored 968 out of 1000 points, 202 points higher than Redwood City. Both feed into the , plus six more listed in the chart below.


School District Funding Per Student 2011 API Score 2010 API Score Woodside Elementary 17320 968 937 Portola Valley 14738 941 949 Las Lomitas 13087 965 963 Menlo Park 8818 934 933 Belmont-Redwood Shores 8026 901 904 Ravenswood (East Palo Alto) 6975 715 688 San Carlos 6159 920 911 Redwood City 5251 766 763

The correlation between funding and API score amongst the eight schools was 0.67. The closer a correlation score is to 1 or -1 suggests perfect correlation. Mathematicians have yet to define what a less than perfect correlation means, but this correlation is too strong to be insignificant.

But like all correlations, this does not mean causation. There are several other factors that could affect a school’s API score such as quality of teachers, innovative school programs and students’ socioeconomic status.

Education experts’ opinions on this correlation have varied just as much as California schools’ API scores.

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle printed on Thursday showed that the more funding San Francisco schools received, the higher their API scores.

But California Watch compared several school districts across the state and identified schools that receive thousands more than other districts yet still perform poorly.

The Capistrano Unified School District, for example, spent much less than the San Bernardino City Unified School District. Yet its API score was 862, compared with San Bernardino's 699.

The article highlighted the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto, which also feeds into the Sequoia Union High School District.

It’s the deviation point in the chart (see attached), spending more per student than Redwood City, but scoring lower.

Superintendent Maria De La Vega told California Watch that large amounts of money were spent to hire three full-time Spanish translators, mainly to translate lengthy special education reports as required by law, and to also work in the school office, in classrooms and at parent meetings.

But despite the debate about correlation and causation, one can’t argue that more money doesn’t mean more resources.

“I’m not trying to making excuses, but the state can’t keep making cuts in funding and then expect increasing results,” Redwood City Superintendent Jan Christensen said.

The district has continued to make the most out of the funding it has received, Christensen said.

Money from will provide students with more nutritious meals. Research shows that students are more likely to attend school and are more prepared and motivated to learn when they have more nutritious meals, the California Department of Education found. http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/he/gardenoverview.asp

The district has implemented a literacy assessment program to tailor education for each student. The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literary Skills (DIBELS) assessment can identify early on the students who struggle with reading while identifying those who surpass their reading level. These students can then receive appropriate enrichment to stay engaged in classroom learning, Christensen said.

“Reduced resources are really taking a toll on our students,” said Superintendent Jan Christensen. “So we have to use them in the most effective manner possible.”

C Fitz September 03, 2011 at 03:33 PM
Please look a little further. Funding per student in the Los Altos school district is in the $8000 range and the API scores for the district are in the 960's across the board of seven elementary schools. That statistic alone skews your hypothesis. You need to look at correlations between the size of the student population. Portola Valley has 560 students and Redwood City has over 6,000 students. Look at the ELL numbers when looking at funding and scores. This seems to be a poor assessment of the numbers. There are so many factors that need to be considered in the test results that go far beyond spending etc.
Trish Taylor September 03, 2011 at 04:44 PM
C Fitz is right. The straight funding picture doesn't tell the true story. The two districts you mentioned, Portola and Los Altos, also have very successful educational foundations. In 2010/2011, the Los Altos Educational Foundation raised just under $2.5 million dollars and the Portola Valley Schools Foundation has an endowment worth almost $3.5 million dollars. And yes, RWC has a higher English Language Learner (ELL) population which many people seem to think is a bad thing. I guess the assumption is that ELL = illegal. But, according to a small article in this month's Family Circle, "only 9% of Americans are bilingual compared to a rate of 65% in the rest of the world". The article also quotes a study by the Rotman Research Institute that "being bilingual sharpens the mind, improves your ability to zero in on important info and ignore distractions, and even forestalls the symptoms of Alzheimers." So, in my mind, if the district's ELL students are given more help, they will become more productive members of society. And unless everyone follows the lead of author Dave Eggers ( http://www.ted.com/talks/dave_eggers_makes_his_ted_prize_wish_once_upon_a_school.html ) and donates their time to helping students, we have no choice but to increase funding to our schools.
Louise September 08, 2011 at 07:39 AM
If Trish Taylor is right we have a case for Stacey Chan to investigate as some of the school in the lower socioeconomic ranks of the Redwood City School District are excluding the parents of the ELL students as they are only preoccupied in elevating the level of test scores but they don't take the time in analyzing the particular situations that generate this results. It is already hard for these parents to feel confident of coming to the schools and try to communicate with school officials and if they are not incentives to attract them as volunteers it will get harder for the district to cover the expenses. In some of the cases they are not PTA groups or English Learners council or organizations that can help to increase the quality of education for these groups.


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