August 2013

IZA DP No. 7551: Educational Achievement and the Allocation of School Resources

Deborah A. Cobb-Clark, Nikhil Jha

(Published in Australian Economic Review (2016) Vol. 49, No. 3, pp. 251 – 271)

The school resources – educational outcomes debate has focused almost exclusively on spending levels. We extend this by analysing the relationship between student achievement and schools' budget allocation decisions using panel data. Per-pupil expenditure has only a modest relationship with improvement in students' standardised test scores. However, budget allocation across spending categories matters for student achievement, particularly in grade 7. Ancillary teaching staff seems especially important in primary- and middle-school years. Spending on school leadership – primarily principals – is also linked to faster growth in literacy levels in these grades. On the whole, schools' spending patterns are broadly efficient.