Compounding Challenges: Student Achievement and the Distribution of Human and Fiscal Resources in Oregon's Rural School Districts

Last Updated: March 31, 2006

Compounding Challenges

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By Jerry Johnson, Ed.D, State Policy Studies Manager Report PDF (966 KB) News Release This report presents findings from an investigation into relationships between academic achievement and the distribution of fiscal resources among rural school districts in Oregon. The investigation was prompted by earlier-reported findings suggesting the critical nature of both achievement gaps and resource gaps among rural school districts in the state. A variety of statistical procedures yielded consistent findings indicating that there is considerable disparity in the distribution of fiscal resources among rural districts, and that the level of fiscal resources available to districts significantly influences educational outcomes.

Interpreting these findings within the socioeconomic context of rural Oregon, we find that
  • The districts facing the greatest challenges receive the fewest resources and produce the lowest levels of academic achievement, and
  • The districts facing the fewest challenges receive the greatest resources and produce the highest levels of academic achievement.
It is a pattern in which the distribution of resources appears to be compounding, rather than mitigating, socioeconomic disparities. In effect, this maldistribution of resources appears to be working against closing achievement gaps.

Results also indicate that the inequitable distribution of resources on a per pupil basis is not the result of the smaller scale of schooling in some parts of the state, offering further support for earlier-reported findings suggesting that school or district consolidation would be a poor policy choice.