New Report Blasts Emery Unified
School District Among Most Unproductive In State
A damning report that illuminates the nexus between academic results and spending per pupil was released in January that shows Emery Unified School District among the worst in the State. The nation wide report, a culmination of a year long comprehensive project conducted by the Center for American Progress, shows how a school district's 'productivity' is crucial in raising academic performance and how Emery Unified, a very unproductive district, ranked 38 on the State Achievement Index for $8563 spent per pupil against a state wide average 59 achievement for $6,900 spent per pupil.
The productivity of a school, the report shows, throws cold water on the old adage that student achievement rises with money spent and implicates the district, not the children in the poor academic performance.
Emery Unified School District is shown to be an outlier in terms of productivity; rating some of the worst scores on the 'return on investment' index, combining the lowest achievement with some of the highest costs, a sobering statistic in light of the nearly $400 million the district is poised to spend on new facilities passed by voters in November. In the report entitled "Doing What Works", the Center for American Progress concludes, "The bottom line is additional dollars make a difference only if the funds are well spent".
Perhaps too early to raise arms in celebration:
Council member Ruth Atkin, on right, joins hands
with School Board member Melodi Dice
The district-by-district evaluation decouples the normal impediments to academic achievement based on parental income from administrative inefficiencies, making it harder to solely blame poor kids for low test scores. In the case of the Emery school district, the report shows the district itself is failing the kids.
Productivity can be seen as efficiency and the report measures the academic achievement a district produces relative to its educational spending, while controlling for cost of living and students living in poverty. The report also shows how unproductive districts like Emery spend more on administration but that an increase in productivity alone could raise academic achievement by up to 25% regardless of low parental income.
Emery Unified with its 38 ranking on the State achievement index and with $8563 per pupil stands out among its neighbors as a low productivity district even when compared to Oakland with a 39 State achievement but only $5782 spending per pupil. Emery has a 80% low income rating versus Oakland's 72%. Farmersville Unified School District in the central valley rates the same as Emery on the achievement index and surpasses it with 84% low income but spends only $6472 per pupil. Also Pittsburg Unified School District in the Bay Area shares the same achievement ranking with Emery but spends only $4992 with 72% low income.
These numbers are in stark contrast with Albany Unified School District which rates 77 on the State achievement and only $6,187 per pupil and 22% low income rating and Alameda Unified at 66 on the achievement index at only $5,299 per pupil and 32% low income. Berkeley has a 58 achievement for $8,034 at 40% low income.
The Center for American Progress is a progressive public policy research and advocacy organization based in Washington DC.
The entire project with attendant reports can be accessed here: