Does Texas’ compensatory education funding get to the intended students?


  • Laurence A. Toenjes University of Houston (Retired)



Educational finance, financial equity in education, Texas, intra-district equity, funding progressivity


Two questions about Texas school expenditure patterns are examined. First, “How progressive are spending patterns among high and low poverty schools?” Second, “How unequal are expenditures per pupil between schools with at least 70% of their students classified as economically disadvantaged, in different districts?” The data, for school year 2017-2018, are restricted to 3,453 elementary and middle schools in 90 large Texas districts. The schools in each district were divided into high and low poverty groups. The differences in the average per pupil spending for operations between the two groups ranged from plus $1,382 in one district to a negative $802 in another. The average expenditures in schools with at least 70% economically disadvantaged students were 75% greater in one district than in another. It is demonstrated that districts with less extreme average levels of low-income students have more opportunity to act as good Samaritans, generally exhibiting substantially greater spending in their high poverty schools. This finding supports arguments for student funding weights that increase with increasing proportions of economically disadvantaged students. An incidental finding is that a commonly used measure of funding progressivity is a direct function of district and school level variances in poverty averages, and is therefore biased by them.


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Author Biography

Laurence A. Toenjes, University of Houston (Retired)

Laurence A. Toenjes served as a Research Associate Professor at the University of Houston until his retirement. Toenjes was previously employed by the Bureau of the Budget and the Office of the Comptroller in Illinois as a fiscal and educational finance analyst and by the Texas Association of School Boards. His papers have appeared in Education Policy Analysis Archives, The American Economist, Journal of Education Finance and other publications. Laurence received his BA and MA degrees in economics from the University of California at Berkeley, and his PhD in economics from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.




How to Cite

Toenjes, L. A. (2021). Does Texas’ compensatory education funding get to the intended students?. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 29(January - July), 36.