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Examining the effects of school-level variables on elementary school students' academic achievement: The use of Structural Equation Modeling

Posted on:2015-07-22Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:Clemson UniversityCandidate:Della Sala, Matthew RobertFull Text:PDF
School finance scholars have called for the alignment of accountability policies with state finance formulae to allocate resources toward student learning goals (Adams, 2008; Ryan, 2008; Superfine, 2009; Verstegen, 2002). With the presence of accountability policies that focus on improving students' academic achievement, state finance systems must be repurposed to allocate educational resources to schools based on research-based practices that are linked to student achievement. The purpose of this study is to test the sufficiency of a new conceptual model of the effects of educational resources on student achievement using structural equation modeling. The goal of this study is to provide further clarity to the discourse on whether researchers can model how variations in educational resources allocated specifically to schools, rather than school districts, affect variations in student achievement.;Descriptive statistics were conducted on the variables in order to calculate the appropriate transformations for the Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). CFA was conducted on the new conceptual model of the effects of educational resources on student achievement and yielded a poor model fit. A post hoc model of the effects of educational resources on student achievement was created and found to be a good model fit. Student characteristics and personnel were found to be significant predictors of student achievement, explaining 34.3% of the variation in the latent variable. The instructional condition latent variable was found to be a poor latent variable and a non-significant predictor of student achievement.;Findings were used to inform implications for methodological improvement. Implications included enhanced measures of the observed variables, the use of students' previous achievement scores, and the use of multi-level analyses to analyze the effects of variations simultaneously between schools and within schools. In addition, two policy implications emerged from the findings to inform state allocation practices to meet the demands of educational adequacy. First, policymakers and researchers may need to develop better measures of the resources within the instructional conditions of schools in order to capture the educational process and then redistribute those resources to schools based on students' differential needs. Second, modifications may be made to the current state finance formula to include an additional weighting for poverty. The funds generated from the additional weighting in this state could then be allocated to schools for them to devise programs or structures that have been proven to help students from low socioeconomic backgrounds achieve proficiency on accountability exams.
Keywords/Search Tags:Student, Achievement, Structural equation, Model, Resources, Effects, State finance, Accountability
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