Do Dollars Matter Beyond Demographics? District Contributions to Reading and Mathematics Growth for Students with Disabilities
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Growth modeling in education has focused on student characteristics in multilevel growth accountability models and has rarely included financial variables. In this dissertation, relations of several demographic and financial characteristics of Oregon school districts to the reading and mathematics growth of students receiving special education services in Grades 3-8 were explored after accounting for student level demographic characteristics. Previous research indicated that three variables were potentially related to student growth: district level aggregated student demographics, district geography (e.g., location in a remote area), and district funding. Three sources of data were used to investigate these relationships: institutional data reported by the Oregon Department of Education, the Common Core of Data gathered by the National Center for Education Statistics, and Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test data collected as part of the National Center on Assessment and Accountability in Special Education. Multi-level models of student growth across Grades 3-8 were constructed for reading and mathematics, with time (level-1) nested within students (level-2) and districts (level-3). Results demonstrated that although student-level demographic factors account for the majority of meaningful differences in student growth, both district demographic characteristics and financial investment in students were related to growth for students who received special education services.