The work that Marguerite Roza has been doing on resource allocation within school districts is important, and I’d like to see school districts across the country make those allocations more transparent, to increase within-district equity. In Philadelphia the supplemental funds given to private managers explicitly included a component that was designed to bring those schools up to the district-wide average, given differentials in teacher salaries. On top of that, the School Reform Comission (SRC) added additional amounts intended to be used for the services of the private managers. This is described in our report.
Moreover, for the purposes of this evaluation, the key issue is not the total per-pupil resources available to the schools, but the marginal resources made available starting when the private managers arrived in 2002. The “first difference” in our analysis of student achievement trends compares the privately managed schools to themselves prior to private management. We examined whether the achievement of their students improved after the private providers arrived—i.e., after the resources available to them increased. Even if they remained under-resourced in absolute terms (which appears to be belied by the SRC’s provision of additional funding), the district increased the resources available to them at the time it instituted private management. It seems fair to ask whether those additional resources produced additional achievement gains beyond the gains attained by other schools in the district that did not receive a similar increase in resources.
*Gill is on the ES Research Advisory Board.