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In this paper, I examine the relationship between public school spending and standardized test scores. Most research conducted on this topic compares school spending with standardized test scores. However, Jackson, Johnson, and Persico’s research conducted on school finance reform changes and its effect on long-run adult outcomes concludes that test scores are “imperfect measures of learning” and addresses that limitation by looking at “long-run outcomes” of adult success rates, like educational attainment. Nevertheless, I have chosen to continue the comparison of school spending against test scores. The key factor behind this decision is the fact that test scores offer a benchmark, while high school graduation rates do not. High school graduation rates are still an important factor to consider when assessing the quality of public schools. When applying for our first jobs, we know that employers ask to see our diploma, not our standardized testing scores. This indicates that obtaining a diploma is a critical factor when assessing future successes. However, there is no benchmark for obtaining a degree, unlike the national scores to compare our test scores. An adequate analysis of public school spending requires a variable with a benchmark, so standardized testing scores are an appropriate choice. For my California case study, I use the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) tests to gauge academic achievement.


Undergraduate Research Awards - 2018 Finalist, Junior-Senior category.