AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Public Policy Foundation has conducted an analysis of the Texas House’s much-publicized study of public education spending. According to the Foundation’s chief economist, the study is educational, but of limited value for policy and legal decisions.
The Foundation has also reviewed the House study’s ranking of school districts by efficiency, which has not been widely distributed. (Selected rankings are listed below, and the full rankings are attached.)
“Some are planning to use the adequacy study as it was published to determine school finance formulas, while others are planning to use it as means to justify school districts’ lawsuit against taxpayers for more money,” said Byron Schlomach, Ph.D., the Foundation’s chief economist.
“In fact, since the Texas Legislature’s school finance adequacy study was released this spring, it has been claimed by some to prove two things: more money spent on schools improves student achievement, and Texas schools need more money. Neither of these assertions is justified on the basis of the study, or any other academic analysis of school finance.”
Commissioned by the House Select Committee on Public School Finance, “School Outcomes and School Costs: Cost Function Approach” was released this spring prior to the special session.
Schlomach said the study was carefully conducted by respected researchers, but that it is being misused in the political and legal process.
By comparing the state’s adequacy study to two other equally valid studies on the basis of rankings, Schlomach writes that “different sophisticated methodologies yield dramatically different results,” making it hard to justify the Legislature’s study for anything other than educational purposes.
“The adequacy study adds to our knowledge of school finance and school performance but it does no more than that. The Legislature’s adequacy study only measures what is associated with school spending, but not necessarily if that spending is justified. It gives the current state of affairs, telling us the way things are, not how they can or even ought to be.”
The Foundation had earlier in the year released two studies that examined public school finance on the basis of expenditures; and included rankings of all or nearly all school districts. Those studies, as well as Dr. Schlomach’s new analysis of the Legislature’s work, are available on the Internet at www.TexasPolicy.com.
“No statistical study, no matter how well researched, should be interpreted as a final answer to the question of how much or in what way taxpayer money should be spent on public education.”
Of the 7 school districts that initiated a lawsuit demanding more money from the state, only one of them was in the top-half of “efficient” schools in the House-commissioned adequacy study’s ranking. (46 school districts are now plaintiffs)
West Orange Cove Independent School District, which started the lawsuit, is number 685 of the 694 schools ranked by the House-commissioned study on efficiency.
Four of the initiating 7 school districts are ranked below the 600-mark of the 694 ranking of school districts.
Other school efficiency rankings in the House study include:
Dallas ISD: 352 of 694 Austin ISD: 615 of 694 Houston ISD: 623 of 694 Laredo ISD: 167 of 694 San Antonio ISD: 476 of 694 Fort Worth ISD: 488 of 694 El Paso ISD: 549 of 694 Waco ISD: 184 of 694 Edgewood ISD: 157 of 694 Highland Park ISD: 90 of 694