Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Must See": Center for American Progress Map on School District Efficiency

Return on investment, or ROI, is a concept familiar to the private sector.  But as government budgets tighten, there have been renewed calls to quantify a very old debate-- how much money is enough in public education?

Unlikely as it is this question can ever be answered to everyone's satisfaction, The Center for American Progress has taken a crack at it, in conducting yearlong effort to study the efficiency of the nation’s public education system.  This study represents  the first-ever attempt to evaluate the productivity of almost every major school district in the country.

Productivity is defined as the academic achievement of a school district relative to its educational spending, while controlling for factors outside a district’s influence, such as cost of living and students in poverty.  This link provides very ready-to-read and  color-coded tables, maps, summaries & related links to the full report compiled:

Adobe Flash District Efficiency Graphic

State Highlights:  Operating on what is a 1 to 6 scale (using color graphics) each district with more than 250 students is evaluated in this report. Achievement index and per pupil spending were factored into the Center for American Progress'  methodology, with the distribution for Minnesota's 291 qualifying districts being (according to a quick perusal):

Rating          # Districts       %

High                    40               14
Above Avg         67               23
Good                  53               18
Fair                     26                9
Below Avg          64              22
Poor                   41              14
Total                 291            100

Interestingly in Minnesota, the High & Low categories, as well as the Above Average and Below Average groupings, are almost mirror images of each other.  In looking at the state's regions from a high level, it appears that most metropolitan districts (save Minneapolis and St. Paul)  are above average, while many in the north central corridor of greater Minnesota have a lower retrurn on their academic investment. Check out the link above to see how your district or region of the state is faring!