Rucker Johnson (Sanford Economics of Structural Inequality seminar) - UC Berkeley

Does Increased K-12 Funding Improve Student Learning and Narrow Achievement Gaps? New Evidence from California’s Local Control Funding Formula

    Date:  04/20/2021 (Tue)

    Time:  3:15pm- 4:45pm

    Location:  This seminar will be held remotely via Zoom. (Please sign in to see the link.)

    Organizer:  Matthew S Johnson

Meeting Schedule: (Not currently open for scheduling. Please contact the seminar organizer listed above.)

    All meetings will be held in the same location as the seminar unless otherwise noted.

    3:15pm - Seminar Presentation (3:15pm to 4:45pm)

    Additional Comments:  ABSTRACT: This study analyzes the efficacy of one of the most ambitious school funding reform efforts in California in a generation to reduce academic achievement gaps between socioeconomically disadvantaged children and their more advantaged counterparts: the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). I link district- and school-level information on school resources and per-pupil spending with longitudinal student data for the full universe of public school students in California to analyze the determinants of student trajectories throughout their K-12 years. This student-level data includes more than 6.5 million students in each year across K-12 years. My analyses span 1995-2018 school years, across the 10,000 schools and 1,000 districts in the state. LCFF committed $18 billion over 8 years in increased public K-12 spending and introduced a new progressive funding formula (2013-2019), which I exploit to isolate policy-induced changes in school spending across cohorts and districts at each of grades K-12. Using quasi-experimental methods (2SLS-IV, difference-in-difference, and regression discontinuity designs) to facilitate causal inference, I analyze the causal effects of public K12 school spending on student achievement. This includes impacts on math and reading achievement in grades 3-8 and 11 and high school graduation. This is the first comprehensive study of LCFF impacts on student outcomes across all grades. I find positive and significant effects of LCFF-induced increases in per-pupil on academic achievement for every grade (3rd-8th and 11th), every subject (math and reading), and for every school that experienced this new infusion of state funds, which targeted lower-income districts and students. The impacts on student achievement increased with both school-age years of exposure to the greater funding and with the amount of increased funding that occurred due to LCFF. Furthermore, I find the increased school spending subsequently increased the likelihood of graduating from high school. Equally important, the results indicate a significant narrowing of the average achievement gap by race/ethnicity and poverty status.