The ’s academic performance index (API) score of 2010-2011 from the year before, yet was still lower than the majority of districts surrounding it. And the district has made no secret of its to the neighboring districts.
But is there a correlation between a district’s funding and its academic performance?
The Redwood City School District received $5,251 per student during the 2010-2011 academic year, less than a third of the amount the Woodside Elementary School District received. The average state funding per student was $8,452, reported the investigative organization, California Watch.
Woodside Elementary scored 968 out of 1000 points, 202 points higher than Redwood City. Both feed into the , plus six more listed in the chart below.
School DistrictFunding Per Student2011 API Score2010 API ScoreWoodside Elementary17320 968 937Portola Valley14738 941 949Las Lomitas13087 965 963Menlo Park8818 934 933Belmont-Redwood Shores8026 901 904Ravenswood (East Palo Alto)6975 715 688San Carlos6159 920 911Redwood City5251 766 763
The correlation between funding and API score amongst the eight schools was 0.67. The closer a correlation score is to 1 or -1 suggests perfect correlation. Mathematicians have yet to define what a less than perfect correlation means, but this correlation is too strong to be insignificant.
But like all correlations, this does not mean causation. There are several other factors that could affect a school’s API score such as quality of teachers, innovative school programs and students’ socioeconomic status.
Education experts’ opinions on this correlation have varied just as much as California schools’ API scores.
An article in the San Francisco Chronicle printed on Thursday showed that the more funding San Francisco schools received, the higher their API scores.
But California Watch compared several school districts across the state and identified schools that receive thousands more than other districts yet still perform poorly.
The Capistrano Unified School District, for example, spent much less than the San Bernardino City Unified School District. Yet its API score was 862, compared with San Bernardino's 699.
The article highlighted the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto, which also feeds into the Sequoia Union High School District.
It’s the deviation point in the chart (see attached), spending more per student than Redwood City, but scoring lower.
Superintendent Maria De La Vega told California Watch that large amounts of money were spent to hire three full-time Spanish translators, mainly to translate lengthy special education reports as required by law, and to also work in the school office, in classrooms and at parent meetings.
But despite the debate about correlation and causation, one can’t argue that more money doesn’t mean more resources.
“I’m not trying to making excuses, but the state can’t keep making cuts in funding and then expect increasing results,” Redwood City Superintendent Jan Christensen said.
The district has continued to make the most out of the funding it has received, Christensen said.
Money from will provide students with more nutritious meals. Research shows that students are more likely to attend school and are more prepared and motivated to learn when they have more nutritious meals, the California Department of Education found. http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/he/gardenoverview.asp
The district has implemented a literacy assessment program to tailor education for each student. The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literary Skills (DIBELS) assessment can identify early on the students who struggle with reading while identifying those who surpass their reading level. These students can then receive appropriate enrichment to stay engaged in classroom learning, Christensen said.
“Reduced resources are really taking a toll on our students,” said Superintendent Jan Christensen. “So we have to use them in the most effective manner possible.”