Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Factors Influencing Student Outcomes and How They Interact - 01 - Time

In response to the feedback received on "Educational Funding and Student Outcomes: The Relationship as Evidenced by State-Level Data," the KASB Research Department is working on a "Part II" which will dig further into other factors that impact student outcomes, and how funding impacts when these other factors are taken into consideration.

In this series of blog posts, I will describe the preliminary correlation analysis comparing these factors (independent variables) with each other in an attempt to show how closely tied to each other they are.  

Today's topic is Time or Period

The period, or year, is included as an independent variable to represent change over time.  Typically school statistics are reported by school or fiscal year, so unless noted the year reported represents the graduation year; 2005 represents the 2004-05 school year for example. 

In terms of other independent variables, I will list the interactions in terms of the strength of the highest correlation between variables observed; Strong (+/- 1.0 to 0.5), Moderate (+/- 0.5 to 0.3), Weak (+/- .03 to 0.1), and None or Very Weak (+/- 0.1 to 0.0).

Strong

  • There is a moderate to strong positive correlation between period and teacher salaries; indicating that as time passes teachers are paid, on average, more.  This correlation is actually stronger when the dollar amounts are adjusted for regional cost of living (RPP) or inflation (CPI2014).  

Moderate

  • There is a weak to moderate positive correlation between period and educational attainment; indicating that as time goes on a higher percent of the population is earning high school diplomas, bachelors degrees, and graduate degrees.
  • Period is has a moderate positive correlation with all measures of poverty; suggesting that the percent the population in poverty is increasing over time.  
  • There is a moderate positive correlation between period and per capita personal income; indicating that individual incomes are increasing over time.  This relationship becomes non-significant when controlled for inflation (CPI2014), but becomes a strong positive correlation when adjusted for cost of living by state (RPP). There is a weak positive correlation between period and household income; indicating that family incomes are not increasing as noticeably over time as personal incomes.  This relationship becomes a weak negative relationship when controlled for inflation (CPI2014); implying that family incomes are actually decreasing over time, and increases slightly when adjusted for cost of living by state (CPI2014). 

Weak

  • There is a weak positive correlation between period and the percent of graduates taking the ACT, but no significant correlation between period and the percent of graduates taking the SAT; suggesting more students are taking the ACT each year, while the percent taking the SAT remains constant on the average.  
  • There is a weak negative correlation between period and the percent of students served under IDEA; indicating that a smaller percent of students are being served under IDEA each year.
  • There is a weak positive correlation between period and the percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch; indicating that a larger percent of students are eligible each year. 
  • There is a weak positive correlation between period and school spending; indicating that as time passes, more money per pupil is being spent on education.  This relationship becomes very weak to weak when adjusted for inflation (CPI2014), but becomes weak to moderate when adjusted for regional cost of living (RPP). This suggests that overall education spending per pupil may be increasing nationwide at a rate slightly higher than inflation.  

None or Very Weak

  • Period is not correlated with regional cost of living (RPP or regional price parity by state), which simply indicates the cost of living figures are unbiased in terms of the passage of time.
  • There is no correlation between period and the percent of students participating in programs for English Language Learners; indicating this is remaining fairly constant over time. 
  • There is no correlation between period and the percent of students in various race and ethnic categories (White, Black, Hispanic, and American Indian / Alaska Native); indicating these percents are remaining constant on average over time.
  • There is no correlation between period and student-teacher ratio; indicating that there is not a consistent trend of either increases or decreases in the number of students per teacher over time.
  • There is no correlation between period and percent spent on instruction.  
  • There is no correlation between period and population density.

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