The data used in this study come from the Michigan Department of Education and include building-level information, such as detailed financial records, student demographics, test scores and graduation rates. A series of regression analyses was performed to identify statistically significant relationships between spending inputs and academic outputs from more than 4,000 Michigan public schools.

Spending Inputs

Detailed information for fiscal years 2004 through 2013 came from the Michigan Department of Education. For each assigned school building code, yearly expenditures were disaggregated both by different objects and different functions according to the state’s standard chart of accounts. An aggregated building-level spending amount for each building was included as a primary independent variable in the analysis.

Academic Outputs

The dependent variables in the building-level regression encompass a comprehensive range of measurable academic outcomes. These include elementary and middle school (grade three through eight) test scores from 2008 to 2013 in math, reading and science on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program tests and high school test scores from the Michigan Merit Examination subject tests over the same seven years, as well as composite and individual subject scores from ACT tests administered to the state’s 11th graders from 2007 to 2013.[*] Scale scores from each of the tests are measured as dependent variables. Also included as outputs were on-time (four-year) and extended (five-year and six-year) graduation rates.

In all there are 28 academic indicators, which are listed in Graphic 1 below.

Graphic 1

Academic Indicator

Number of Indicators

MEAP Math Scores

6

MEAP Reading Scores

6

MEAP Science Scores

2

MME Subject Test Scores

5

ACT Composite and Subject Test Scores

6

Graduation Rates

3

School and Student Characteristics

Detailed information for fiscal years 2004 through 2013 came from the Michigan Department of Education. For each assigned school building code, yearly expenditures were disaggregated both by different objects and different functions according to the state’s standard chart of accounts. An aggregated building-level spending amount for each building was included as a primary independent variable in the analysis.[†]


[*] MEAP science tests were only administered to fifth- and eighth-grade students.

[†] Building-level enrollments also were broken down by recognized racial categories, English language acquisition and disability status from 2010 to 2014. This relatively smaller data sample was excluded from the regression analysis reported. Separate regressions were run to include the racial categories, but there was no qualitative or quantitative change to the overall findings.