Federal Data Reveals No Relationship Between Spending and Academic Outcomes in Wisconsin Schools

Will Flanders:

Flying under the radar amidst the continuing pandemic is the news that the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) finally released school-level spending data for Wisconsin’s public schools. Required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), DPI appears to have dragged its feet as long as possible before providing this information to families and taxpayers. The data shows us that contrary to popular belief, there is little correlation between spending and student outcomes.

The data is broken down into several bins. The most important are the federal and state/local bins. These show (appropriately enough) the amount of spending from each level of government that has been allocated to each school. The other bins are the same across schools. These are the amount of federal and state/local funds that are sent to the district office and the district’s Local Education Agency (LEA). An example of how this data looks from one Milwaukee School, the Milwaukee Sign Language Academy, is presented below.

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