# The effect of school resources on pupil attainment: a multilevel simultaneous equation modelling approach

**ABSTRACT** Improving educational achievement in UK schools is a priority, and of particular concern is the low achievement of specific groups, such as those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. An obvious question is whether we should be improving the outcomes of these pupils by spending more on their education. The literature on the effect of educational spending on the achievement of pupils has some methodological difficulties, in particular the endogeneity of school resource levels, and the intraschool correlations in pupils' responses. We adopt a multi-level simultaneous equation modelling approach to assess the effect of school resources on pupil attainment at age 14 years. The paper is the first to apply a simultaneous equation model to estimate the effect of school resources on pupils' achievement, using the newly available national pupil database and pupil level annual school census. Copyright 2007 Royal Statistical Society.

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**ABSTRACT:**This paper discusses the potential contribution of employing school effectiveness methodological approach within the ongoing research debate on school choice issues. Using the first approach, we estimate the effectiveness of a sample of Chilean schools after controlling by a baseline at the student level. In order to avoid the endogeneity of such a baseline with respect to the school effect, we use a longitudinal data set (SIMCE 2004 and SIMCE 2006) from which a natural pseudo-experiment is defined in such a way that the baseline is by design uncorrelated with the school effect. Thereafter, we investigate possible relationships between parental school choice (as declared in public standardized surveys) and the schools classified by their effectiveness. The main conclusions of this paper are, on the one hand, that there is not remarkable difference between municipal (public) and subsidised schools in terms of their effectiveness analyzed under value-added; and, on the other hand, that there is no relation between parental school choice preferences and school effectiveness.Estudios de Economia 12/2012; 39(2):123-141. - SourceAvailable from: Sarmistha Pal[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]

**ABSTRACT:**Abstract We study school choice and school efficiency in terms of secondary school completion test scores by utilizing a unique database from Nepal. There are two novel features of our model: firstly we allow for heterogeneity among private schools, by distingusihing socially motivated trust-run schools from profit-motivated company-run schools, and secondly, we include school's expenditure as a determinant of its efficiency per unit of cost. We find that when expenditure is not included, the trust-run school comes on top, slightly but distinctly, ahead of the profit-motivated school. But if expenditure is included, the trust-run school's position becomes sensitive to the level of expenditure, as it is the only school to exhibit sensitivity between expenditure and test score. In the urban area, the public school is always at the bottom, and between the two types of the private school the trust-run school ranks first (second) at high (low) levels of expenditure. However, in the rural area it is a three way race, with the trust school coming on top again at high expenditure, but falling to bottom at low levels of expenditure. This picture is fairly robust to considerations of subject fixed effets and to inclusion or exclusion of private tuition. We show both theoretically and empirically that socially motivated schools can be efficient and outperform profit-motivated schools.SSRN Electronic Journal 05/2014; - [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]

**ABSTRACT:**The purpose of this investigation is to determine the incidence of school infrastructure and resources and its impact on the academic performance of primary education students in Latin America. A 4-level multilevel model was applied to the data of the Second Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study (SERCE) conducted by UNESCO, which researched 180,000 students in the 3rd and 6th grades of primary education at 3,000 schools from 15 countries in Latin America. Results show that the availability of basic infrastructure and services (water, electricity, sewage), didactic facilities (sport installations, labs, libraries), as well as the number of books in the library and computers in the school do have an effect on the achievement of primary education students in Latin America, but their relative weight varies significantly from country to country. These results indicate the need to continue investment in resources and facilities and to incorporate this factor into school effectiveness models that are meant to become universal.School Effectiveness and School Improvement 03/2011; 22(1). · 0.80 Impact Factor

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The Impact of School Resources on Student Attainment: A Multilevel Simultaneous

Equation Modelling Approach

Fiona Steele*

Graduate School of Education

University of Bristol

Anna Vignoles and Andrew Jenkins

Bedford Group for Lifecourse and Statistical Studies

Institute of Education, University of London

Summary

Improving educational achievement in UK schools is a priority, and of particular concern is

the low achievement of specific groups, such as those from lower socio-economic

backgrounds. An obvious question is whether we should be improving the outcomes of these

students by spending more on their education. The literature on the effect of educational

spending on pupil achievement has a number of methodological difficulties, in particular the

endogeneity of school resource levels, and the intra-school correlations in student responses.

In this paper, we adopt a multilevel simultaneous equation modelling approach to assess the

impact of school resources on student attainment at age 14. This paper is the first to apply a

simultaneous equation model to estimate the impact of school resources on pupil

achievement, using the newly available National Pupil Database (NPDB).

Keywords: education production function, multilevel simultaneous equation model

*Address for correspondence: Fiona Steele, Graduate School of Education, University of

Bristol, 35 Berkeley Square, Bristol BS8 1JA, Email: f.steele@ioe.ac.uk

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1. Introduction

For policy-makers and parents alike, improving educational achievement in UK schools is a

policy priority. There is certainly an economic imperative to raise educational achievement,

given that an additional year of education in the OECD area is estimated to increase

economic output by between 3 and 6 percent (OECD, 2004). Currently, the UK spends

around 5 per cent of its annual Gross Domestic Product on education, including primary,

secondary and postsecondary (compared to an OECD mean of 5.6 per cent), and expenditure

has been increasing since the mid 1990s. Nonetheless, spending in UK secondary schools

(US$5933) is below the OECD mean of US$6510 (OECD, 2004). However, lower

expenditure does not necessarily mean lower achievement, at least in aggregate. The UK,

along with countries such as Australia, Finland, Ireland and Korea, spends a lower than

average amount on secondary schooling but its students perform relatively well in

international tests of student achievement, such as the Programme for International Student

Assessment (Machin and Vignoles, 2005). An obvious policy question is therefore whether

an increase in per pupil expenditure on education, or a reduction in the average pupil-teacher

ratio in schools, is a viable means of improving pupil attainment across the board. There are a

number of reasons why this may not in fact be a feasible policy option. One possibility that is

much discussed in the literature, and which has hugely important policy implications, is that

state schools are inefficient in their use of resources, so that higher spending schools do not

systematically have better pupil outcomes (Hanushek, 1997). This paper not only aims to

provide empirical evidence to guide policy-makers on this issue, but also seeks to overcome

some important methodological difficulties that plague many of the previous studies in this

area of research.

Another policy issue of particular concern in the UK is the low achievement of specific

groups of students, such as those from lower socio-economic backgrounds and certain

gender/ ethnic groups. Again, an obvious question is whether we should be improving the

outcomes of these students by spending more on their education. This research question is

explored in our previous work on this issue (Levačić et al., 2005), which used an instrumental

variable approach to examine the relationship between school resourcing levels and the

attainment of different subgroups of English pupils. Here, we adopt a somewhat different

methodology (a multilevel simultaneous equation model) to try to accurately ascertain the

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direction and magnitude of any links between school resources1 and the mean educational

attainment of pupils in England.

There is a large and controversial literature analysing the relationship between school

resourcing levels and pupil achievement, dating back to the pioneering work by Coleman et

al. (1966). Much of the US evidence suggests a weak and somewhat inconsistent relationship

between school resources and pupil achievement. (Burtless, 1996; Hanushek, 1997).

However, this view has been disputed by some, including Lane et al. (1996) and Krueger

(2003).

Largely, the controversy in this literature centres on the extent to which studies that show no

significant relationship between school resources and pupil achievement are able to overcome

a number of methodological difficulties. One major methodological difficulty in the literature

is the problem of the endogeneity of school resources due to the non-random way in which

funds are allocated across schools. In the UK, schools with higher concentrations of lower

attaining students receive more funding per student. If this feature of resource allocation is

ignored, a true positive effect of increasing resources will be understated. In addition, there

may be unobserved characteristics of schools, and also of local education authorities (LEAs),

which influence both resource allocation and student attainment. For example, one factor in

the funding allocation formula used by LEAs is the proportion of socially disadvantaged

students in a school, which is also associated with student outcomes. In the absence of

adequate controls for social background, a true positive resource effect will be diluted or may

even appear negative.

There are a number of potential methods that might be used to overcome this endogeneity

problem, including random assignment. For example, the Tennessee STAR class size

experiment randomly allocated children in primary school to small and large class sizes.

Results from STAR suggest that smaller classes do increase student attainment and that gains

persist to the school leaving age and college (Krueger and Whitmore, 2001). Another method

that is used to overcome the endogeneity problem is a natural experiment. The international

literature using natural experiments, such as rules on class size, or court-imposed policies to

raise spending on schools, has produced mixed results. Angrist and Lavy (1999) and Jepson

1 Per student expenditure and the school pupil-teacher ratio.

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and Rivkin (2002) found positive effects of smaller class size on student attainment for Israel

and California respectively. However Hoxby (2000) found no effect of class size and

Dobbelsteen et al. (2002), instrumenting on teacher allocation rules, reported a significant

positive effect of larger class size on attainment for the Netherlands.

Yet another approach to tackling endogeneity is to include a large number of control

variables to reduce the possibility of covariance between resources and any unobserved

variables that affect attainment. For example, Wilson (2000) using extensive data on family

and neighbourhoods for the US found school spending to be positively related to high school

graduation and years of schooling. Another method tried by Hakkinen et al. (2003) is using

panel data over a number of years to difference out school and district effects. They find no

effects on exam scores in Finnish upper secondary schools of changes in per student spending

from 1990-98.

It is fair to say, however, that the vast majority of school resource effect studies have not

been able to address the endogeneity problem. This is certainly the case in the UK (Levačić

and Vignoles, 2002). UK studies that have made some attempt to address endogeneity have

generally found small but statistically significant positive effects from school resource

variables on educational outcomes. (Dearden et al., 2001; Dolton and Vignoles, 2000;

Dustmann et al., 2003; Iacovou, 2002).

Endogeneity issues are not the only methodological difficulty in this literature. Another

important methodological issue to be considered is the intra-school correlations in student

responses. The need to control for clustering in the analysis of hierarchically structured data

is well known (see, e.g., Goldstein, 2003). One consequence of ignoring clustering is the

underestimation of standard errors due to the decrease in the effective sample size, and in

general the underestimation is most severe for explanatory variables defined at the cluster

level. In the present case, it is especially important to adjust for clustering because the

variables of major interest, measures of school resources, are school-level characteristics.

In this paper, we adopt a multilevel simultaneous equation modelling approach to assess the

impact of school resources on student attainment at age 14. A multilevel model is used to

allow for clustering of student outcomes by school and LEA, and clustering of school

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resources by LEA. A simultaneous equation model is used to adjust for the endogeneity of

school resource allocation. In this approach, student attainment and a measure of school

resources are treated as a bivariate response. A multilevel model is defined for each response

with LEA and school level random effects included in each; these random effects may be

correlated across the attainment and resource equations, which allows explicitly for

correlation between the unobserved LEA and school characteristics that influence each

response. Our approach differs from the instrumental variable (IV) method traditionally used

to account for endogeneity in the assumptions made about the level at which selection effects

operate. The standard approach involves estimating equations for the outcome of interest and

the endogenous regressor, either simultaneously or more commonly in two stages, but the

equations are linked via correlated residuals defined at the lowest level of observation, in this

case the student. This method may be inappropriate on two counts: first, it incorrectly treats

school resources as a student-level variable and, second, it does not recognise that

endogeneity arises due to correlation between unobservables at the school or LEA level

rather than at the student level.

This paper is the first to apply a simultaneous equation model to estimate the impact of

school resources on pupil achievement, using the newly available National Pupil Database.

The NPDB contains information on the characteristics and achievement of every pupil in an

English school, as well as characteristics of the schools themselves. The NPDB is

supplemented by information on schools’ levels of resourcing, derived from data submitted to

the Department for Education and Skills by local education authorities. NPDB provides

information on individual students’ attainment at age 14 (Key Stage 3) in 2003 and their

attainment at age 11 (Key Stage 2) in 2000, enabling us to control for prior attainment in our

model. Previous work in this area has been restricted to using either more aggregated data

(school or LEA level data) or relying on the National Child Development Study data set that,

whilst rich, is somewhat dated in terms of providing empirical evidence to inform education

policy today (its sample consists of a cohort born in 1958).

2. Background on the Secondary Education System in England

In England, educational spending on both primary and secondary schooling is administered

by 150 local education authorities (LEAs), which are under local government control.

However, in the years for which our study data were collected, the majority of the money for

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education came from central government via a block grant2 to these LEAs for all local

services. LEAs could spend this grant more or less according to their own priorities, and

decide to spend more or less than the amount notionally allocated per pupil in the block grant.

The amount of money received by a particular LEA from central government nominally for

education, which until recently was known as the Education Standard Spending Assessment

(SSA)3, depends on a number of factors that influence the expected educational costs in an

LEA. For example, the education SSA takes account of student numbers, socio-economic

factors (e.g. the number of immigrants in the area, the proportion of the local population in

lower socio-economic groups and the numbers of families on state benefit), density of

population and cost of living in the area.

The fact that socio-economic factors partly determine the SSA implies that in the UK greater

school resources are allocated to areas of greater educational need. This is reinforced by the

fact that the actual block grant given to LEAs takes account of the potential in the LEA to

raise local tax for educational spending. Thus prosperous areas tend to receive less from

central government since they can potentially raise more revenue from local taxation. The

fact that LEAs have some discretion over how to spend the grant they receive4 again

reinforces the point that endogeneity is likely to be a problem in any analysis of the influence

of educational expenditure on pupil achievement.

3. Methods

3.1 The standard multilevel modelling approach

Denote by

the attainment at age 14 in maths, English or science of student i (i=1, . . .,

∑

k

; ) in school ( =1, . . .,

j

;

ijk

y

jk

n

∑

j

,

=

k

jk

nn

j

k J

=

k JJ

) in LEA (k =1, . . .,

k

K ). The

standard approach to modelling attainment, allowing for clustering at the school and LEA

levels, would be to fit a three-level random effects model. The simplest such model allows

the regression intercept to vary randomly across schools and LEAs:

2 Revenue Support Grant.

3 Now the Education Formula Spending Share.

4 Thus actual expenditure per pupil varies systematically by LEA, depending partly on the political party in

control of the local authority and their educational priorities.

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ijk

y

jk

y

kjkijk

T

ijk

euvzy

++++=

)()(

β

xα

(1)

where

is a vector of explanatory variables defined at the student, school or LEA level, α

is a vector of associated coefficients,

is a measure of school resources with coefficient

ijk

x

jk

z

β , and , and are residuals for LEAs, schools and students respectively.

Typically, the residuals are assumed to be normally distributed:

,

and .

)(y

kv

)(y

jk

u

ijk

e

), 0 (

N

~

2

v

)(

)(

ky

y

v

σ

) , 0 (

N

~

2

u

)(

)(

jky

y

u

σ

) , 0 (

N

~

2

e

)(yijk

e

σ

A further assumption of the standard multilevel model is that the residuals at each level are

uncorrelated with the predictor variables

and . For the reasons given in Sections 1

and 2 above, however, this assumption is questionable because the mechanisms by which

resources are allocated to schools are likely to be related to the unobserved determinants of

student attainment; these unobserved factors may be acting at the school or LEA level or

both, leading to nonzero correlations between

and either or both of and .

ijk

x

jk

z

jk

z

)(y

jk

u

)(y

kv

3.2 A simultaneous equations model for attainment and resource allocation

One way to allow for the potential endogeneity of resources

with respect to attainment

is to model the resource allocation process jointly with attainment. A two-level random

intercept model for school resources is

jk

z

ijk

y

)(

jk

)(

k

zz

jk

T

jk

uvz

++=

wγ

(2)

where is a vector of explanatory variables defined at the school or LEA level,

jk

w

γ is a

vector of coefficients, and and are school and LEA level residuals.

)(z

jk

u

)(z

kv

Equations (1) and (2) define a simultaneous equations model. The equations are linked via

the school and LEA residuals and must therefore be estimated jointly. At each level, we

assume that the residuals follow bivariate normal distributions, i.e.

and . We denote the

),(~][

2

)(

jk

)(

jku

Tzy

jk

Nuu

Ω0u

=

),(~][

2

)(

k

)(

kv

Tzy

k

Nvv

Ω0v =

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Page 8

covariances at the school and LEA level by

and respectively. Likelihood ratio

tests may be used to test whether either or , or both, equal zero. A covariance that

is significantly different from zero implies that

is endogenous, and the nature of the

selection effect is given by the direction of the covariance estimate.

)(yz

u

σ

)(yz

v

σ

)(yz

u

σ

)(yz

v

σ

jk

z

3.2.1 Identification

In order to identify the simultaneous equations model (1) and (2), the vector

must

contain at least one variable, called an instrument, which is not contained in

. To qualify

as an instrument, a variable must predict the allocation of resources across schools, but

should not have a direct effect on attainment.

jk

w

ijk

x

Finding adequate instruments in this area of research is quite problematic (Burtless, 1996).

Given that school funding varies by LEA, and that LEAs are subject to political control, the

political party in control of the local authority is one potential instrument. We argue that

political control of the local authority will affect educational spending in that LEA but will

not directly impact on pupil achievement. The first instrument is therefore a variable

indicating the political control of the local authority, i.e. whether Labour, Conservative,

Liberal or other (including no overall political control by one party). As can be seen in Figure

1, the mean raw expenditure per student is highest in Liberal and Labour controlled local

education authorities, and lowest in Conservative controlled authorities.

It is possible that residents who place greater emphasis on education (and hence whose

children tend to do better in school) will vote for parties that advocate higher educational

spending. However, residents vote for a party that has policies on a number of different

issues, not just educational spending. It is not clear that residents will vote purely, or even

primarily, on the basis of parties’ educational spending plans, especially as in the UK local

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elections are generally dominated by national politics. It is therefore unlikely that educational

spending is a major issue in most local elections.

Our second instrument is lagged school size, which is an instrument that has been used by

others in the field (Iacovou, 2002). School size (in terms of pupil numbers) is a key factor

predicting the per capita level of funding in a school. The correlation between lagged school

size and expenditure per student is –0.30 and significant at the 5% level. The correlation

between lagged school size and the student teacher ratio is +0.11 and significant at the 5%

level.

Of course for school size to be an adequate instrument it must not impact directly on pupil

achievement. There is little evidence that school size has an effect on pupil achievement, at

least not in studies that use rich pupil level data such as the NPBD. An argument can be

made that more effective schools tend to be bigger because they attract more pupils, thereby

causing a positive relationship between school size and pupil achievement. However, in our

data we are able to control for this to some extent by including an indicator of how popular

and ‘full’ the school is5. As a further robustness check, we also re-estimated our models using

lagged school capacity, rather than lagged school size. This was on the grounds that school

capacity is simply a function of the physical construction of the school, unrelated to current

student enrolment. There is little change in the results when this alternative instrumental

variable is used.

3.2.2 Estimation

5 That is the school’s percentage capacity utilization , which is the actual number of students in years 7-11

compared to the maximum physical capacity in terms of student numbers, which is determined by the

Department for Education and Skills.

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The simultaneous equations model can be framed as a multilevel bivariate response model.

For each individual, we can define a bivariate response

(

rijk

y

r =1, 2) where and

. In addition, we define two response indicators as follows:

ijkijk

1

yy

=

jk ijk

zy

=

2

⎩

⎨

⎧

=

=

=

jkrijk

ijk rijk

y

rijk

zy

yy

I

if0

if1

)(

,

)(

rijk

)(

rijk

1

yz

II

−=

Equations (1) and (2) can then be written in the form of a single equation for the stacked

responses {

} as

rijk

y

)(

rijk

)(

jk

)(

rijk

)(

k

)(

rijk

)(

rijk

)(

rijk

)(

jk

)(

rijk

)(

k

)(

rijk

)(

rijk

I

zzzzz

jk

T

y

ijk

yyyyy

jk

y

ijk

T

rijk

IuIv

IeIuIvIzIy

+++

++++=

wγ

xα

β

(3)

In the standard bivariate model, both responses are at the individual level and therefore the

bivariate response vector will be of length

(Goldstein, 2003; Chapter 6). In the present

case, however, the responses are defined at different levels of the hierarchy:

is a student-

level response, while

is at the school level. While we could replicate values of for

students in the same school, it is more computationally efficient to restructure the data so that

there is a single observation of

for each school, leading to a response vector of length

. The explanatory variables in (3) are the two-way interactions between and each

element of , and between and the elements of . The random effects in the

attainment and resource equations are fitted by allowing the coefficient of

to vary across

students, schools and LEAs, and the coefficient of

to vary across schools and LEAs.

n

2

ijk

y

jk

z

jk

z

jk

z

Jn+

)(y

rijk

I

][

jk

T

ijk

z

x

)(z

rijk

I

T

jk

w

)(y

rijk

I

)(z

rijk

I

We estimated model (3) using MLwiN v2.0 (Rasbash et al., 2004).

4.

Data

The data for this paper come largely from the NPDB. PLASC contains school characteristics

(size, type, pupil-teacher ratio etc.), pupil characteristics (age, gender, ethnicity, eligibility for

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free school meals etc.) and pupil achievement data at each key stage of the curriculum (ages

7, 11, 14 and 16). We merged into these data additional information on school expenditure

and political control of the local authority, as well as Census information on the socio-

economic characteristics of each child’s neighbourhood.

Our model estimates the impact of school resources on pupil achievement in English,

mathematics and science at age 14, i.e. Key Stage 3 in 2002/3. This consists of a sample of

430,000 pupils. We control for each pupil’s prior achievement at Key Stage 2 (age 11), i.e. in

1999/2000. The dependent variables are continuous test scores, which vary from 0 to almost

9 for maths, and from 0 up to almost 8 for science and English.

The resource variables we use are all at school level, namely expenditure per student6, the

average student teacher ratio in the school and the ratio of students to non-teaching staff. The

resource variables were averaged over the three years that the sample was in secondary

school. We estimated separate models for the expenditure and the staffing resource variables,

since the majority of school spending is on teachers. Teacher salary costs are on average 61

per cent of secondary schools’ expenditure (OFSTED, 2003). If expenditure per pupil and the

pupil-teacher ratio are included in the same model, then the effect of the pupil-teacher ratio is

biased downwards because a lower pupil-teacher ratio for a given level of spending

automatically implies that there are less resources available for other inputs (Todd and

Wolpin, 2003).

Full descriptive statistics are given in Table 1.

6 Deflated by an indicator of the cost of living in the area, namely the Area Cost Adjustment.

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5. Results

We begin by examining the extent to which student attainment scores are clustered within

schools and LEAs, and school resources are clustered within LEAs. Table 2 shows estimates

of the residual variance at each level, from which estimates of the intra-school and intra-LEA

correlations have been calculated. The estimates for attainment are from estimating separate

three-level models for attainment at age 14 in maths, science and English, adjusting for

attainment at age 11 in the same subjects. Thus the variance components represent the

variance at each level in progress from entry into secondary school up to age 14. The

estimates for school resources are from fitting separate two-level models to the expenditure

and staffing measures. At this stage of the analysis, no student or school characteristics have

been included in any of the models.

The intra-school correlations for attainment show that there are moderate school effects on

performance in all three subjects, with the strongest effect on English scores: 22% of the total

variance in English progress is due to differences between schools. After taking into account

school effects on progress, LEA effects are very weak. Turning to the school resource

measures, we find that 19% of the total variance in expenditure per student can be explained

by differences between LEAs. This moderately high intra-LEA correlation implies that while

LEAs vary in their mean expenditure per student (averaging across all schools in an LEA),

there is similarity in the expenditure of schools in the same LEA. There is rather less

homogeneity within LEAs in pupil-teacher ratios. This is a reflection of the fact that, whilst

overall per student spending in each school is determined at LEA level, schools themselves

have much more discretion over how this money is spent, and in particular they have some

control over the pupil-teacher ratio in each class and year in the school.

We next consider the evidence for the endogeneity of school resources with respect to student

attainment. Table 3 shows the results from likelihood ratio tests comparing, for each subject

and resource measure, a standard multilevel model and a simultaneous equation model. All

models include a number of controls for student background and school characteristics, as

described in Section 4. In the standard model, the covariances between the school and LEA

residuals across the attainment and resource equations are constrained to equal zero, while in

the simultaneous equation model these covariances are freely estimated. Thus we are testing

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Page 13

the null hypothesis that

, which is a test of the exogeneity of the relationship

between attainment and resources. Rejection of the null implies that school resources are

endogenous to attainment, in which case estimates of the impact of resources on attainment

from the standard multilevel model will be biased. We find strong evidence that both per

student expenditure and the pupil-teacher ratio are endogenous to attainment in science.

There is also evidence that staffing and, at the 10% level, expenditure are endogenous to

maths attainment. We conclude, however, that both resource variables are exogenous to

English attainment.

0

)(

v

)(

u

==

yzyz

σσ

Having established that both of our school resource indicators are endogenous to attainment

in maths and science, we can examine estimates of the residual correlations to assess the

direction of selection effects and whether they operate at the school or LEA level or both.

The correlation at the LEA level is interpreted as the (residual) association between the LEA

mean level of resources (expenditure or staffing) and LEA mean attainment. A strong

correlation at this level would suggest a selection effect that is driven by the way in which

central government allocates resources to local authorities. The residual correlation at the

school level measures the within-LEA association between school resources and school mean

attainment. A strong correlation at the school level implies a selection effect that is due to the

nature of resource allocation among schools within an LEA, i.e. non-random allocation

within LEAs. A dominant LEA-level correlation would suggest that selection is largely the

result of central government policy and political choice at local level, as Conservative LEAs

tend to be lower spending authorities.

Table 4 shows estimates of the correlation between the school and LEA residuals across the

resource and attainment equations in the simultaneous equation model. We discuss only the

interpretation of the correlations between resources and attainment in maths and science,

since exogeneity tests (Table 3) suggest that resources may be assumed exogenous to English

scores. The school and LEA-level correlations between the residuals for expenditure per

student and attainment in maths and science are negative; these correlations are strongest for

science and, for both subjects, the LEA-level correlation is the largest. A negative correlation

at the LEA level implies that unobserved LEA factors influencing school expenditure are

negatively correlated with the unobserved LEA-level determinants of student attainment.

Equivalently we may conclude that, even after controlling for a rich set of explanatory

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Page 14

variables, there is a negative association between the mean level of expenditure in an LEA

and the LEA mean attainment. A negative selection effect is consistent with the policy of

compensatory funding where schools with greater learning needs receive more funding per

student (see Section 2). The evidence suggests that the selection effect is stronger at the LEA

level, which is as one would expect, given that the expenditure for education that is

notionally allocated to each LEA (the education Standard Spending Assessment discussed in

Section 2) is determined by central government on the basis of a formula that explicitly

includes many factors likely to be highly correlated with pupil attainment. For example,

central government takes the following factors into account when determining the level of

each LEA's education SSA: the proportion of immigrants in the area, the proportion of the

resident population on benefits and indicators of deprivation. The selection effect is greatest

for science, particularly at LEA level. It appears that the socio-economic factors that

determine each LEA's allocation for expenditure on education are also more highly correlated

with science achievement. Further investigation is required as to why this might be the case

but our results clearly indicate that resourcing effects vary across subjects.

The residual correlations between maths and science attainment and the pupil-teacher ratio

follow a similar pattern to those for attainment and expenditure, although the correlations are

now positive because a high pupil-teacher ratio is an indicator of lower resources. However,

the correlations at both levels are stronger than for expenditure, particularly at the school

level. The fact that the selection effect is greater for the pupil-teacher ratio, as compared to

expenditure, indicates that there is more autonomy for schools to determine how they spend

their resources. The large positive selection effect is consistent with the widely held view that

education professionals tend to allocate poorer performing students into smaller class sizes.

This phenomenon may also occur at LEA and school level, whereby schools with lower

performing pupils either are allocated or opt for lower pupil teacher ratios. This would come

about by LEAs systematically attempting to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio in their most

disadvantaged schools and by schools with disadvantaged pupils opting to have a lower

pupil-teacher ratio for a given level of expenditure, as compared to their more prosperous

counterparts.

In Table 5, we demonstrate the impact of adjusting for endogeneity on estimates of the effects

of school resources on student attainment. For each subject and resource indicator,

standardised coefficients are presented for two models: the standard multilevel model

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denoted in (1), which assumes that resources are exogenous, and the simultaneous equation

model denoted jointly by (1) and (2), which allows for endogenous resource effects. Based

on the results from either model, we would predict a statistically significant, though small,

improvement in students’ maths and science progress for an increase in the expenditure per

student or a decrease in the pupil-teacher ratio, et ceteris paribus. When we allow for

endogeneity, however, the magnitude of these effects increases substantially. The increase in

effect size is expected due the nature of selection implied by the direction of the residual

correlations between resources and attainment (Table 4).

To assess the effects of school resources on English attainment, we may interpret the

estimates from the standard multilevel model due to the lack of significance of the residual

correlations in the simultaneous equation model (Table 3). We find a counter-intuitive

negative effect of expenditure per student on English progress, and no significant effect of the

pupil-teacher ratio. It has been suggested that the school environment has a lesser effect on

progress in English than in other subjects, partly because the home environment is relatively

more important in determining language development. This might explain why the pupil-

teacher ratio does not have a significant impact on pupil progress in English, particularly at

the relative low levels of pupil-teacher ratio found in the English education system (relative

to world standards). However, it does not explain why expenditure might be negatively

related to English progress.

6. Discussion

This paper has adopted a multilevel simultaneous equation modelling approach to determine

the impact of school resources on pupil attainment at age 14. The primary objective of the

paper was to determine whether additional expenditure on education would lead to improved

pupil attainment, clearly an important issue for policy makers attempting to raise standards in

education and improve the performance of low achieving groups. The paper, building on

previous work using an instrumental variable approach (Levačić et al., 2005) addresses a

number of methodological difficulties in this literature, in particular the endogeneity of

school resource levels, and the intra-school correlations in student responses.

In policy terms our results suggest the following. Firstly, additional resources do have a

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- Available from Anna Vignoles · Jun 1, 2014
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