A new report out from the Center for American Progress calculates the return on investment (ROI) for most districts within each state based on the percentage of students achieving proficiency in reading and math for every $1,000 spend on core operations. Data is adjusted for kids who receive free or reduced lunch and kids eligible for special education services. You can click on the interactive map for New Jersey and check out the scattergram for a sense of how your district stacks up.
The worst of the worst is Asbury Park, according to CAP, which spends over $18K per student and has a state achievement index of 33. Coming in close behind are Camden City, Trenton, Orange, Irvington, Plainfield, East Orange, Passaic, and Paterson. At the other end of the spectrum are districts like New Providence, Berkeley Heights, Millburn, Ramsey, Ridgewood, and Montgomery.
No surprise that districts with the lowest ROI’s are all Abbott districts with extremely low socio-economic levels (DFG’s) and districts with the highest ROI’s are all rich (DFG’s of I and J on a scale of A-J). Duh moment: it’s cheaper to educate kids from wealthy households.
Worth noting, however, are some of CAP’s conclusions: that we can increase the efficiency of school funding (“low productivity costs the nation’s school system as much as $175 billion a year); that more spending will not necessarily increase student outcomes; that high-spending districts are “often inefficient.” Say the authors,
* Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be enrolled in highly inefficient districts. Students who participated in subsidized lunch programs were 12 percentage points more likely to be enrolled in the nation’s least-productive districts, even after making allowances for the higher cost of educating lower-income students.