Equity and efficiency of Minnesota educational expenditures with a focus on English learners, 2003-2011: A retrospective look in a time of accountability

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Abstract

Policymakers and practitioners often must balance distributing resources equitably and efficiently while being accountable for high student achievement. This paper focuses on these concepts as they relate to English learners and examines equity and efficiency in Minnesota’s educational funding from 2003 through 2011, the years spanning implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act and Minnesota’s waiver from its regulations. Equity refers to the distribution of resources in the achievement of established goals (Alexander, 2012); efficiency entails the attainment of those goals using fewer resources (Rolle, 2004). We measure equity by looking at three standard distribution measures: (1) McCloone Index; (2) Verstegen Index; and (3) Coefficient of Variation (Odden & Picus, 2008). We operationalize efficiency using data envelope analysis, thus getting at aspects of technical efficiency. We found that distribution of expenditures are increasingly uneven in the nine-year period examined. This inequality was largely driven by low-spending districts falling farther behind the median. Moreover, despite specific guidelines in its school finance formula that awarded additional resources for English learner populations, districts with higher portions of English learners have lower total and instructional expenditures per pupil, not higher. If more dollars are not available for EL programming, then doing more with less becomes paramount. Nevertheless, the efficiency of resource use was relatively constant over the years examined with efficiency in the use of education resources similar for English learners as it was for the population overall.

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How to Cite
Alexander, N. A., & Jang, S. T. (2017). Equity and efficiency of Minnesota educational expenditures with a focus on English learners, 2003-2011: A retrospective look in a time of accountability. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 25, 16. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.25.2811
Section
Education Finance and English Language Learners
Author Biographies

Nicola A. Alexander, University of Minnesota

Nicola A. Alexander is Associate Professor in the Education Policy and Leadership program at the University of Minnesota. She is particularly interested in notions of fairness, including issues of adequacy, equity, and productivity. Dr. Alexander is author of Policy Analysis for Educational Leaders: A Step by Step Approach (Pearson, 2012).

Sung Tae Jang, University of Minnesota

Sung Tae Jang is a doctoral candidate in the Education Policy and Leadership program at the University of Minnesota. He was nationally selected as one of Graduate Fellows and Policy Associates sponsored by the University Council for Educational Administration. His research and teaching interests include educational equity, intersectionality, school culture, and social justice leadership.