Archive for Thursday, July 5, 2007

District beats state efficiency average

July 5, 2007

It appears Eudora USD 491 beat the state average in a recently released spending efficiency study.

The district achieved an 89 percent efficiency rating when spending money, according to the study by Standard & Poor's.

The group arrived at the rating by measuring academic performance achieved for money spent while considering other uncontrollable demographic variables.

The average score in Kansas was 85 percent with the lowest at about 60 percent.

The report was funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and supported by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

"These studies are not intended to encourage school districts to cut costs, but to use their limited resources in the most effective ways possible to increase student achievement," said Michael Stewart, director of research and analytics at S&P's School Evaluation Services. "In other words, the purpose of the study is to help school districts get the most out of every dollar they spend."

The financial service firm collected information from 257 of the state's 300 school districts and examined how much money was spent per student, how well students scored on state math and reading assessments and how many students attended the district who were low-income, disabled or had limited English proficiency.

Area districts in De Soto and Baldwin were two of 21 districts ranging in size and location to receive perfect scores.

To determine each district's relative efficiency, the firm used an analytical method called data envelopment analysis.

The results of the study are meant to help districts identify best practices and know where to look to seek out new ideas, Stewart said.

"Successful organizations of all kinds continually search for new ideas and methods to improve performance," he said.

"Benchmarking is the process many of them use to improve performance and trigger fundamental breakthroughs in thinking and practice. School improvement teams can use this same approach."

Superintendent Marty Kobza received word about the study last week.

"It's an interesting way to evaluate schools," Kobza said.

He said it appeared Standard and Poor used older information for the district and that district officials are trying to conduct their own trial of the study.

"We're trying to find out exactly what years they got the numbers from and how they meshed those numbers together," Kobza said.

Sebelius said in a press release that excellence can't be bought, but it can be achieved with wise investments.

"This study is a road map of what works and what doesn't," Sebelius said. "Every Kansas child, in every corner of the state, deserves a first-class education. This report helps us get the best return on that investment."

----Patrick Cady contributed to this article.

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