Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

David Piper, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Joseph Marcoline, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Kelli Jo Kerry-Moran, Ph.D.


The purpose for this study was to explore the relationship between economic and noneconomic indicators and their influence on student achievement in Pennsylvania. The secondary purpose was to discover perceived barriers to student achievement and provide recommendations from experts about methods to improve student success by overcoming both economic and noneconomic factors. The economic indicators included in this study are basic education funding, district wealth (MV/PI), average daily membership (ADM), weighted average daily membership (WADM), total local revenue, local mill value, adjusted Act 1 Index, expenditures, fund balance, debt, and socioeconomic disadvantage rates. The noneconomic indicators are total enrollment, truancy rates, reportable discipline infractions, staff size, and teacher experience and education credentials. Student achievement is represented by graduation rates, dropout rates, post-secondary education rate, and high-stakes tests, such as the PSSA and SAT scores.

This study has determined that there are several economic and noneconomic indicators that affect a school district’s ability to ensure student achievement. The economic indicators that have a negative impact on student achievement are socioeconomic disadvantage rate, MV/PI ratio, adjusted Act 1 index, equalized millage rate, basic education funding, and average special education instruction expenditures. The economic indicators having a positive impact on student achievement are local revenue, average instructional expenditures, and average regular education expenditures. The noneconomic indicators having a negative affect on student achievement are truancy rate and reportable disciplinary infractions. Finally, teachers’ education level and experience are noneconomic indicators that have a positive influence on student achievement.

This study concluded that student achievement rate is largely determined by a school district’s ability to generate local revenue and state funding. It has also been determined that the socioeconomic disadvantage rate within a school district is the most predictive indicator of student achievement. Interviews were also carried out with superintendent and business manager teams to validate the quantitative findings of the study. The interviews also indicated that changes in school district funding policies at the state level are needed to help provide a more fair and equitable distribution of state funds to the school districts that are serving the students with the most need.