meaningful, tangible impact on student performance.255 One 2002 study examining the impact of
school funding litigation found that, in twelve states where judicial invalidation of the education
funding system resulted in an increase in funding for poorer districts, Scholastic Aptitude Test
(“SAT”) test scores increased by about five percent.256 A 2003 study examining the impact of
funding differences between elementary schools within the same district found that schools that
spent more money per pupil generally had more highly educated teachers and better-maintained
facilities.257 Consequently, students at schools that spent more per pupil outperformed students at
poorer schools within the district on state academic assessment tests.258 The study’s authors
found that a $1,000 increase in educational spending correlated to a 6 to 10% increase in the
number of students at a school passing the state assessment tests.259
In Illinois schools, a 2008 study also suggested that increasing student funding
corresponds to improved test scores.260 Notably, the analysis first looked at data only from
districts with less than 8% of students below the poverty line.261 This was done to help control
for external valuables that often impact poorer students, such as lack of parental support or
reinforcement of education in the household.262 An analysis of student performance on the ISAT
versus per-pupil instruction spending suggested performance improved with each additional
$1,000-2,200 spent per-pupil.263 A similar analysis was also conducted using data from schools
with 27 to 32% of their student population in poverty, and found a similar correlation between
spending and performance.264
A comparison of per-pupil expenditure in Cook County school districts versus
performance on various standardized tests also seems to suggest a general correlation. The
following charts contain spending and testing data from all elementary and high school districts in
Cook County (note that the data does not include Chicago Public Schools and other unit districts).
For high school students, there appears to be a fairly strong relationship between spending and
performance on both the PSAE and ACT. For elementary school students there does appear to be
a relationship, however the correlation appears to be weaker than for high school students. Data
were obtained from the Illinois Interactive Report Card.265
255 See Myron Orfield, The Region and Taxation: School Finance, Cities, and the Hope for Regional Reform, 55 BUFF. L. REV. 91,
114 (2007) (citing various studies of reform effects as evidence that funding reform can improve academic achievement); Condron &
Roscigno, supra note 253, at 20-21; Card & Payne, supra note 253, at 79-80; Susanna Loeb & Marianne E. Page, Examining the Link
Between Teacher Wages and Student Outcomes: The Importance of Alternative Labor Market Opportunities and Non-Pecuniary
Variation, 82 REV. ECON. & STAT. 393, 403, 406 (2000) (examining the impact of higher teacher salaries on student performance).
256 Card & Payne, supra note 253, at 80 (finding an increase in SAT scores following education funding reforms).
257 Condron & Roscigno, supra note 253, at 29. The study compared eighty-nine public elementary schools in Ohio’s Columbus
Public School District. Id. at 23. Despite operating within the same district, total per-student spending ranged from $3,045 to $8,165
amongst the elementary schools. Id. at 20. The authors attributed this variation to several factors, including political pressure on
elected school board members to satisfy wealthier residents of the district, variations in grant money to rich and poor schools,
selection biases in distributing local and state funds, etc. See id. at 21.
258 Id. at 30.
260 See C TR. FOR TAX & BUDGET ACCOUN TABILIT Y, supra note 11, at 11 (“The big question remaining, however, is whether increased
investment in instruction generates better academic performance. . . . [T]he answer appears to be a resounding yes.”).
262 Id. at 12.
263 Id. at 11.
264 Id. at 12.
265 See ILLINOIS INTERACTIVE REPORT CARD, supra note 8. A spreadsheet containing the data used to create these charts is on file
with the author.