School Resources, Student Outcomes, and Equality of Opportunity? An Examination of the New Literature

Project: Research project

Project Details


Since the 1960s, social scientists have explored the extent to which increased school spending improves child outcomes and reduces attainment gaps across income and racial groups. Early studies on this topic were correlational and therefore of limited use for policy. However, many recent studies rely on quasi-random policy variation in spending (due to court orders, ballot initiatives, and other policies) that are credibly causal and informative for policy. Because there has been no review of these recent studies, it is unclear (a) the kinds of spending that improve child outcomes (such as test scores, educational, and wages) and reduce inequality in outcomes, and (b) the contexts in which increased spending is most effective. To help resolve these issues, we propose a synthesis of this new literature. We will compile a list of all studies that use quasi-random policy variation to link changes in school spending to child outcomes and will provide an overview of these studies. To directly inform policy, we will collect information about each study (population, nature of spending, etc.) and apply meta-analytical tools to determine the contexts in which school-spending policies are more likely to improve child outcomes generally, and those of low-income and ethnic minority children in particular. Using meta-regression, we will compare effects across studies to elucidate differences by geography, baseline spending levels, inputs being spent on, and the populations targeted
Effective start/end date9/1/198/31/21


  • William T. Grant Foundation (190178)


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