Monday, February 29, 2016

Kansas Education Policy: Building a Funding Formula, Pt2: Poverty

A couple of weeks ago I posted my first part in a series on rebuilding the Kansas education funding formula.  Along with this post I made a promise to analyze these issues each week until we get something figured out.  Here we are two weeks later, and I'm just getting around to posting again... but hey, I'm making more progress than anyone else on this.  


Last time we started putting together a regression model for our new State funding formula.  We're building this thing slowly, and putting some thought into it; hopefully we'll be done by the time the issue is legislatively solved.  

The issue we analyzed last week dealt with economies of scale for different school district sizes.  Essentially: smaller school districts are more costly due to the lack of economies of scales in procurement and general operations.  We estimated what that curve may look like, and came up with this general chart for 2015 data:  

A quick note, economies of scale curves like this always bring up the argument: why don't we force some of the smaller districts to consolidate, thus moving them down the cost curve.  Obviously some economies of scale could be created this way.  On the other hand, some of these districts are located in such rural areas that structurally prohibit some of the economies of scale available to an urban district.  We will deal with this in a future post.  


This week we're looking at the impact that poverty has on education outcomes, current education spending, and its use in a current policy.  So why do we look at poverty:
  • From an a priori perspective, current education literature points to kids in poverty having more issues in the education system. A reasonable review of that is found here.  There is the question of whether those difficulties can be solved with more money for public schools, however, there are some proven ways to defeat these issues (such as stronger preschools and early intervention) that cost money.  As such, it's plausible that creating programs to deal with childhood poverty would increase necessary spending for high-poverty districts.  
  • From a Kansas perspective, we know that Kansas schools with higher poverty rates perform more poorly, many researchers have proven this in the past.  Actually, I'll do it again just for fun:

This is a regression against average 11th grade performance measures (weighted by log(FTE) to smooth out any low end volatility for all of you nerds out there).  The negative coefficient on the percent_free_lunch variable is the important part here, because it demonstrates that the more kids in poverty (eligible for free lunches through federal programs) the lower education outcomes.  

This free lunch variable is the traditional way to measure poverty in schools, largely due to ease of measurement.  There is some argument that this allows school districts to commit fraud and "game" the system by pushing the program harder to students, but for the purposes of these estimates "% free lunch" should be directionally correct.  

Following this analysis, we jumped back to our original equation from the prior post.  We tried a couple of different transformations of the free lunch variable, and found the one that best fit the data was raw entry (not logged).  Here's what that looks like:

The positive coefficient on the percent_free_lunch tells us that costs increase as the number of students on free lunch increases.  Because this is a log-linear equation the interpretation isn't easy to understand, but it's effectively a 0.2% increase in costs for every 1% point increase in free lunches.  

here's what that looks like graphed:

What does this mean for our funding formula?  For every 10 percentage point increase in poverty, school districts will spend between $250 and $350 per fte more.  

(Yes we are still concerned about the ispo facto nature of this being included in the old funding formula, thus driving old spending rates from which our empirical data is derived.  We will deal with the complications of that in a future post).


In our work on the Kansas education funding we have covered these basic attributes, and believe that any functioning funding formula will need a way to control for these attributes:

  • Economies of scale: The formula will need to account for the lack of economies of scale in running rural, low enrollment school districts.  We have established a fairly good picture of what that cost curve looks like.
  • Poverty: Education literature demonstrates that poverty negatively impacts education outcomes, and we demonstrated that schools with kids in poverty in Kansas perform poorer.  Currently districts with higher poverty rates are also spending more, so any future funding formula likely needs to account for varying levels of poverty in schools.
In addition to this, I started keeping a list of elements I need to address in the future (contact me if you would like anything added to the list):
  • Transportation Funding (geographical size modifier).
  • Performance Measures.
  • Special Education.
  • Teacher Salaries.
  • Consolidation Equilibrium.
  • Ability to Pay, Equality, and Efficient Spending
  • Avoiding the Ipso Facto: making sure our regression equation doesn't mirror old funding formula


  1. Ought to we've got academics who have additional expertise within the teaching skills or smart educational qualifications?find best essay writing service

  2. This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging. Looking to reading your next post. Chandigarh Ration Card Details

  3. Amazingly written blog that has transfixed its audience.

  4. if you want to study law in Kenya, go to kenyan thesis. And if you want to enjoy quality journalism education or media studies, you may have to consider private institutions, such as Daystar and Kenya Institute of Mass Communication.

  5. I have been a special education inclusion teacher intruding on the territory of some regular education teachers with my special education students and the modifications official site I thought these teachers should implement.

  6. Can hardly wait for another blog by this essayist.
    Exam Updates

  7. This was a start, and other states did eventually follow suit. In time, this local grassroots' movement and states' movement led to enough pressure on our elected officials for something to be done on the national level for our people with disabilities.REET Exam Admit Card

  8. In the event that this is done, education will furnish graduates with the essential aptitudes to survive the financial fights and difficulties of genuine living.

  9. top essay writing service reviews can be your best friend and tutor when talking about 1-hour essay help

  10. where there are more teachers than needed and when structures have been put in place to ensure that quality teachers go on production and employment. Best Essay Help UK

  11. Envision that... Two decades after I was informed that Special Education was leaving, and I find that regardless they can't get enough custom curriculum educators. alternatives to gotowebinar

  12. It is imperative to point out that this problem has its roots in the fact that the main incentive to go to school in the early days of its creation in different parts of the world was that it was a ticket to prosperity. coursework answers

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Your post is very great. Hope you'll be sucessfull in your life!
    i always love you quotes

  15. Going to class ought to encourage the ideal improvement of the considerable number of parts of the human individual. A perfect educational framework ought not separate any part of man in the preparation procedure, nor think of some as viewpoints more critical than others. Anything shy of this is a deviation, and is unsatisfactory.Best Selling Kids story books online

  16. Your article is very or very helpful to me! thank you. Wishing you every success in your life!
    game kid game barbie

  17. Your article is very or very helpful to me! thank you. Wishing you every success in your life!
    Easy games for kids

  18. Be that as it may,MURANG'A UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY as you would already be able to envision, the enduring accomplishment of the American School for the Deaf was the special case and not the standard amid this day and age.

  19. Education - like popular government, free markets, opportunity of the press, and "all inclusive human rights" - is one of those subjects whose ideals is viewed as undeniable. So is the prevalence of the mechanically propelled nations in accomplishing them.Greater London Music Lessons

  20. This is a brilliant blog! I'm very happy with the comments!.. factors in choosing a college

  21. Spine-The back piece of the book and it faces outward when you retire the book right. fukku

  22. You can fortify you claim future and the fate of your child or little girl with education advances. A broad scope of understudy and parent credits are introduced under the class of education advances. There are numerous sorts of education credits. grey or gray

  23. Many educators on the other hand do remember a time when technology and the internet were not a part of everyday life.

  24. The program you pick will give increasingly explicit subtleties to suggestion about gear and programming. electrical installation