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If money matters, then school systems need to allocate it equitably among districts, schools, and individual students. Whether money is allocated equitably among students within the same school remains largely unknown. To date, a number of studies have analyzed the allocation of educational funding at either the district or the school level, but very few studies have done so for students within the same school. This study seeks to fill this gap in the literature by conducting a within-school equity analysis for all high school students in a large urban school district.
This study also utilizes a theoretical and analytic approach to conducting an equity analysis developed specifically for the context of a student-level study. This study builds on Berne and Stiefel’s (1984) widely used equity evaluation framework and Toutkoushian and Michael’s (2007) modification thereof and uses hierarchical linear modeling to determine within-school equity of student-level expenditures.
Results indicate that there were strikingly large differences in expenditures for students within the same high school and that expenditures were related to student characteristics in both equitable and inequitable ways. These findings suggest district and school leaders may be suboptimally allocating resources among individual students and may benefit from better information on how resources are ultimately allocated to students.