School Productivitiy Essay

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Examining Productivity in Catholic Schools The debate over school productivity has been heightened by focus placed on accountability and efficiency. Both researchers and the public sector are interested in understanding how and where money is spent and if this money provides gains in student achievement. Early research tried to correlate a set of educational "inputs" to a single "output." Standardized test results, graduation rates, dropout rates, college attendance patterns, and labor-market outcomes are the most common output metrics used to assess school productivity. Inputs usually include per-pupil expenditures; student-teacher ratios; teacher education, experience, and salary; school facilities; and administrative factors (Picus, 1995). The most famous production-function study was the U.S. Department of Education's 1966 "Coleman Report." This study concluded that socioeconomic background influenced student success more than various school and teacher characteristics (Picus, 1995). Although low student performance can be blamed partly on deteriorating social and economic, several factors may be controlled by schools. Allan Odden and William Clune (1995) point to poor resource distribution across states, districts, schools, and students; unimaginative use of existing funds; schools' bureaucratic structure; and focus on services and labor-intensive practices that drive up costs. The Consortium on Productivity in the Schools (1995) discovered that clear focus, responsive internal and external adaptation mechanisms, intrinsic and extrinsic incentives, and continuous improvement were essential traits. In addition to studies primarily related to public schools, there are also studies that try to compare the productivity of private schools to public. The central tenet of these studies, such as the Coleman report, identify Catholic schools as achieving

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