The effects of cost, income, and socio-economic variables on student scholastic aptitude scores

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Adams, Edward R.
Riegle, Jack D.
Issue Date
Thesis (D. Ed.)
Department of Educational Leadership
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The purpose of the study was to determine at the school district level, what relationships exist, if any, between Indiana school corporation SAT mean scores (a limited output measure of student achievement and aptitude) and six intervening input variables: (1) operating expenditures per pupil, (2) instructional expenditures per pupil, (3) per capita income, (4) corporation enrollment size, (5) degree of population density, and (6) at-risk index characteristics.The study provided a review of the research and related literature on relationships between high school SAT scores, public school expenditures and other intervening input variables. The study addressed questions about relationships and effects of expenditures and other input variables upon SAT scores. The need to examine individual district variation in SAT performance was motivated by the influence comparisons of SAT scores have on public perception of education and the resultant impact on state and local education policy.A principal goal of the study was to add to the understanding of the relationships between public expenditures directed to education, specific demographic and compositional student characteristics, and education performance as measured in SAT mean scores.The study incorporated Pearson product moment correlations and stepwise multiple regression procedures to determine the existence of variation in outputs accounted for by variation in the specific inputs. Initially a Pearson correlation coefficient was calculated to test each of the six null hypotheses. Statistical significance was sought in each instance at the .01 level. Stepwise multiple regressions were then used to examine the SAT output relationships with compounded variables.The following conclusions were drawn from the findings and the summary tables reported in the study: 1. Low per capita income is associated with a decline in SAT scores and higher per capita income to associate with higher SAT scores.2. Increased performance on the SAT is not dependent upon the amount spent in total General Fund expenditures per pupil, however, an increased amount spent on instruction tends to raise SAT scores.3. A high at-risk index presence is associated with lower SAT scores whereas a low at-risk index tends to be associated with higher SAT scores.4. Urban density does not effect SAT scores in a statistically significant manner.5. The size of the school corporation has no relationship to SAT scores.Overall total General Fund expenditures were not shown to significantly affect SAT scores, although such costs were not shown to be detrimental in the multiple regression analysis. More importantly, instructional expenditures per student were demonstrated to be one of three significant factors affecting higher SAT scores. The other significant variables were poverty and high at-risk factors, which were shown to be associated with lower SAT score levels.The data and the study strongly suggest that, if school authorities, legislatures, private business and parents continue to use the SAT scores as a prime barometer and target for educational success, we should immediately begin to compensate dramatically for the atrisk and per capita income deficits in individual students and impacted schools, and maximize financial resources into proven classroom instructional strategies. If the public wishes to narrow the gap in SAT scores, then policy makers need to examine the educational-environmental liabilities of low income, single parent home, and the appropriate level of instructional cost which will generate acceptable SAT results.