Student under preparedness is one of the major challenges facing community colleges in the United States. When students are not prepared for college level course work, it decreases their chances of successfully meeting their goals, whether that is an associate’s degree, a certificate, or transfer to a university. When students do not meet their academic goals in college, then they are unable to reach their full potential. A contributing factor of student under preparedness at the postsecondary level is an inequitable and inadequate distribution of resources at the K-12 level. Schools and school districts are funded, in large part, with local property tax levies, which results in large disparities in per pupil funding. Students residing in socio-economically disadvantaged school districts that often expend less money per pupil are disproportionally under prepared for college-level course work. This study examined the relationship between per pupil expenditure in Maricopa County K-12 public school districts and student under preparedness at the post-secondary level; specifically the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD). Subsequently, this study advocates policy transformations aimed at equalizing opportunity for Maricopa County students to make education an avenue for social mobility.
The population of this study consists of Maricopa County Community College District students who attended a Maricopa County public K-12 school district, and who took placement testing at MCCCD for course placement during the fall 2013 semester. Purposive sampling was used to identify students who currently attend MCCCD and took placement tests to enter MCCCD during fall 2013.
In order to assess the relationship between per pupil expenditure at the secondary level and student preparedness at the post-secondary level two logistic regression models were utilized. The first model uses per pupil expenditure quartiles as the independent variable and student preparedness as the dependent variable. The second model uses an interaction between Arizona Department of Education high school grade and per pupil expenditure (per pupil quartiles) as the independent variable and student preparedness as the dependent variable. The difference between the two models is stark—Model 1 (only per pupil quartiles) shows that the students in quartile four, where the most money is being spent, are the least likely to be prepared—that appears to be because the students in quartile four are largely made up of students that are socio-economically disadvantaged. The results of Model 2 are consistent with the notion that increased per pupil expenditure and more effective schools will result in a higher proportion of college ready students. The implications of the findings of this study are twofold. First, the issue of “ecological equity” must be addressed in Maricopa County. Second, the issue of equity and adequacy in per pupil expenditure must be addressed in Maricopa County (and perhaps the State of Arizona). Policy transformations are needed in these two areas of educational public policy. The issues of “ecological equity” and adequacy and equity in education funding must be addressed concurrently. Specific policies recommended include quality preschool education, extending school hours, providing health and social services in schools, and expending more money per pupil in school districts with concentrated poverty.
|Commitee:||Delecki, Walter, Hoffman, Michael, Wiggall, Richard|
|School:||Northern Arizona University|
|School Location:||United States -- Arizona|
|Source:||DAI-A 76/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Adequacy in school finance, Equity in school finance, Per pupil expenditure, School finance, Social mobility, Student under preparedness|
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