Education Funding

Some Oregon Districts Have Worst ‘Bang for Educational Buck’

By Jackie Mader — July 15, 2014 1 min read

Six rural school districts in Oregon have poor educational returns on investments, as evidenced by high per-pupil spending and low student achievement, according to a recent report highlighted in an article by The Oregonian.

The Center for American Progress examined spending habits and 2011 test scores for more than 7,000 school districts for the “Return on Educational Investment: 2014,” which evaluates the “educational productivity” of districts. Six of Oregon’s rural districts were among the 300 worst in the nation, with all having high per-pupil spending but low reading and math scores on state exams. This year, The Oregonian published an extensive investigation on chronic absenteeism, which is often rampant in rural districts and may contribute to poor academic scores.

About 65 percent of districts in Oregon are small and rural, according to The Rural School and Community Trust, yet they serve only 11 percent of students in the state. Oregon has one of the highest percentages of rural students who are English-language learners, as well as one of the highest rural student mobility rates, meaning those students frequently change residences and possibly schools.

The Center for American Progress cautions that the district ratings do not “capture everything that goes into creating an effective school system,” but the report does note that spending priorities seem to be misplaced in some districts. In Texas for example, more than 100 of the state’s school districts, or nearly 10 percent, spend more than $500 per student on athletics.

To look up your school district’s evaluation, check out the searchable database here.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.