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Let No Child Be Left Behind: Determining the Cost of Improving Student Performance


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  • Andrew Reschovsky
  • Jennifer Imazeki


The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and recent legislation in a number of states have raised the standards for accountability in schools, with the objective of closing achievement gaps and increasing student performance overall. These new education policies, however, rarely address the way in which schools are financed. They ignore the fact that characteristics of schools and students require that some schools spend more than others to achieve any given student performance standard. To determine the characteristics that lead to variations in the costs of achieving a specified improvement in student performance, the authors estimate an educational cost function using data from elementary and secondary school districts in Texas. Results indicate that cost differences across districts can be quite large. The cost function results are summarized into a cost index that can then be used in a simple formula to guarantee that every district has sufficient fiscal resources to achieve state-imposed performance goals.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by in its journal Public Finance Review.

Volume (Year): 31 (2003)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 263-290

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Handle: RePEc:sae:pubfin:v:31:y:2003:i:3:p:263-290

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Cited by:
  1. Duncombe, William & Yinger, John, 2005. "How much more does a disadvantaged student cost?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 513-532, October.
  2. Audun Langørgen, 2012. "A structural approach for analyzing fiscal equalization," Discussion Papers, Research Department of Statistics Norway 715, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
  3. William Duncombe & John Yinger, 2011. "Making do: state constraints and local responses in California’s education finance system," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 337-368, June.
  4. Brunner, Eric J. & Ross, Stephen L., 2010. "Is the median voter decisive? Evidence from referenda voting patterns," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 898-910, December.
  5. William D. Duncombe & John Yinger, 2004. "How Much More Does a Disadvantaged Student Cost?," Center for Policy Research Working Papers, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University 60, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
  6. Eric J. Brunner & Stephen L. Ross, 2009. "Is the Median Voter Decisive? Evidence of 'Ends Against the Middle' From Referenda Voting Patterns," Working papers, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics 2009-02, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised May 2010.
  7. Simanti Bandyopadhyay, 2013. "Estimating Fiscal Health of Cities: A Methodological Framework for Developing Countries," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University paper1319, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  8. Eric J. Brunner & Stephen L. Ross, 2007. "How Decisive Is the Decisive Voter?," Working papers, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics 2007-28, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2008.
  9. Gronberg, Timothy J. & Jansen, Dennis W. & Taylor, Lori L., 2011. "The Impact Of Facilities On The Cost Of Education," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 64(1), pages 193-218, March.


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