Thursday, November 6, 2014

Factors Influencing Student Outcomes and How They Interact - 02 - State Cost of Living

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 State Cost of Living or Regional Price Parity

The Bureau of Economic Analysis calculates a regional price parity by state and year, which indicates the amount to which the cost of living differs from state to state.  This parity value is includes as independent variable to indicate the amount to which monetary value varies from state to state. 

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

  • RPP has a strong negative correlation with the percent of graduates taking the ACT, and a strong positive correlation with the percent of graduates taking the SAT.  This means the ACT is more likely to be taken in states with lower cost of living; whereas the SAT is more likely to be taken in states with higher cost of living.  
  • There is a strong positive correlation between RPP and teacher salaries; indicating that states with higher cost of living also have higher average teacher salaries.  This relationship remains strong when adjusted for inflation (CPI2014), and becomes a weak positive correlation when the dollar amounts are adjusted for RPP; which means that even when the dollar amounts are adjusted for state cost of living, the relationship remains statistically significant between RPP and teacher salary.  
  • There is a strong positive correlation between RPP an school spending; indicating that states with higher cost of living also spend more money per pupil than those with lower cost of living.  This relationship remains strong when adjusted for inflation (CPI2014), and becomes moderate when adjusted for RPP; which means that even when the dollar amounts are adjusted for state cost of living, the relationship remains statistically significant between RPP and per pupil spending.

Moderate

  • There is a moderate negative correlation between RPP and the percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch; meaning that states with higher cost of living have lower percents of student eligible for the National School Lunch Program's free and reduced-price lunch offerings.
  • There is a moderate positive correlation between RPP and the percent of student participating in programs for English Language Learnings, meaning states with lower cost of living have lower percents participating in programs for English Language Learners.  This seems contrary to expectations, and may indicate states with higher cost of living have more ELL programs available than states with lower cost of living.  
  • There is a moderate negative relationship between RPP and the percent of white students, a moderate positive relationship between RPP and the percent of Hispanic students, and no correlation between RPP and the percent of Black or American Indian / Alaska Native students.  This indicates that states with higher cost of living are likely to have fewer white students and more Hispanic students than state with lower cost of living.  
  • There is a moderate to strong negative correlation between RPP and poverty.  This means states with higher cost of living have lower percents of the population at various levels of poverty.  
  • There is a strong positive correlation between RPP and population per square mile; indicating states with more people per mile have higher cost of living.
  • There is a strong positive correlation between RPP and personal and household income.  This correlation remains strong when adjusted for inflation (CPI2014), and becomes weak when adjusted for RPP; which means that even when the dollar amounts are adjusted for state cost of living, the relationship remains statistically significant between RPP and personal and household income.

Weak

  • There is a weak positive correlation between RPP and instruction as a percent of current spending; indicating that states with higher cost of living spend a greater percent of current spending on expenses categorized under "instruction."  There is no correlation between RPP and instruction as a percent of total revenue. 
  • There is a weak positive correlation between RPP and the percent of 18-24 year olds and 25 year olds and older with at least a high school diploma, but a strong positive correlation between RPP and the percent of 25 year olds and older with a bachelors, graduate degree, or higher.  This indicates that states with higher cost of living are also more likely to have citizens with some form of college degree.  

None or Very Weak

  • Regional cost of living (RPP or regional price parity by state) is not correlated with period, which simply indicates the cost of living figures are unbiased in terms of the passage of time. 
  • There is no correlation between RPP and the percent of students served under IDEA.
  • There is no correlation between RPP and student-teacher ratios.

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