Improving Educational Productivity and School Finance

Allan R. Odden
University of Wisconsin–Madison
WIlliam Clune
National Institute for Science Education


Historically, the education productivity problem has been rising resources with flat or only slowly rising student achievement. In the period 1960–1990, infla­tion-adjusted revenues per pupil rose by slightly more than 200%. However, despite a number of positive performance indi­cators, student achievement in core subject areas during the same period rose only modestly. The future productivity problem is producing much higher student achievement, the goal of current education reform, with stable resources, because education resources have been flat for the past five years and are unlikely to do much better in the near future. Both educa­tion programs and finance structures will need to be re­structured to accomplish these productivity challenges.

Articles have recognized that low student performance may be due in part to declining social and economic con­ditions of children and their families, lack of hard work by students, and lack of parental support for schools and chil­dren. Indeed, there is considerable truth to the propo­sition that maintaining levels of student achievement in a period of decline in the conditions of children would be a significant accomplishment. But research presented in this article focuses on what schools controlled and could do to improve student achievement and thus productivity.

This article was originally published in Educational Researcher by SAGE Publications.

Suggested citationOdden, A. R., & Clune, W. (1995, December). Improving educational productivity and school finance [Article]. Policy Analysis for California Education.