Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Leadership and Policy

First Advisor

Ben Pogodzinski


The purpose of this quantitative ex-post facto research study was two-fold: (a) to investigate the association, if any, between school spending and student academic performance, and (b) to identify what, if any, student and school-level structural characteristics mediated a relationship. Multilevel linear regression models were estimated to identify the association between total site-level per-pupil expenditures and school aggregated student academic growth measures in mathematics and ELA among 7th-grade students in Michigan for the 2018-2019 academic year. The data for 847 traditional public and charter public-school academies from 667 districts in Michigan were collected from the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI). The final analytic sample consisted of 803 schools. The primary findings revealed that after controlling for student sociodemographic and school-level structural characteristic variables, on average, higher levels of per-pupil spending were associated with higher student growth percentile in mathematics and ELA. Specifically, a $1,000 increase in the level of per-pupil spending was associated with increases in the student growth percentile in mathematics and ELA. This study contributes to the existing body of research literature examining school fiscal resources and student academic outcomes. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.