College of Education & Human Development
How large are the educational spending gaps between poor and non-poor students, and which demographic groups face the largest gaps?

University of Delaware assistant professor Kenneth Shores and doctoral student Hojung Lee, along with University of Pennsylvania doctoral student Nell Williams, find that, on average, poor students receive about $400 less in school spending than non-poor students. In their recent Brookings article, the authors show that these gaps occur when we look across the whole country: poor students are more likely to attend schools in states where spending levels are well below the national average.

“Overall, economically disadvantaged and Black and Hispanic students receive less education funding than economically advantaged or white students. These inequalities are substantial,” said Shores, Lee, and Williams. “Black students receive almost $400 per pupil less than white students, and economically disadvantaged students receive $430 less than economically advantaged students. For Hispanic students, the national gap is particularly stark: Hispanic students receive over a thousand dollars less per pupil than white students.”

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Is the $36.5 billion in proposed Title I expansion enough money to make a difference in children's educational experiences?

Yes. In a second Brookings article, Shores, Lee, and Williams propose two ways of closing educational spending gaps: equivalent monetary transfers to all groups of students and differential transfers to groups of students based on their current spending levels, both of which are broadly feasible within the proposed Title I expansion. The authors argue that we can eliminate poor to non-poor spending gaps by giving about $400 to all poor students at a cost of $10.6 billion. However, millions of students attend school in districts where spending is more than $400 below the national average. At a cost of $40 billion, we can raise the spending of poor students up to the national average. 

"[T]he Biden administration’s proposed expansion of Title I to $36.5 billion represents a real opportunity to substantially increase spending for vulnerable student populations. However, the policy can only successfully accomplish this goal if funds target student subgroups with the lowest levels of spending directly, which would mean restructuring how Title I is distributed," said Shores, Lee, and Williams. 

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About Kenneth Shores
Kenneth Shores

Kenneth Shores is an assistant professor specializing in education policy in the School of Education at the University of Delaware. His research focuses on educational inequalities and his work addresses racial/ethnic and socioeconomic inequality in test scores, school disciplinary policy, classification systems, and school resources.


About Hojung Lee
Hojung Lee

Hojung Lee is a Ph.D. in Educational Statistics and Research Methods student in the School of Education at the University of Delaware. Her research interests include economics of education and education policy, as well as cooperative game theory.


About Education & Social Policy at UD

Shores recently joined UD’s CEHD, along with Florence Ran (higher education policy) and Anamarie Whitaker (early childhood education policy). Shores’s research complements the work of our K-12 education and social policy faculty at UD, which include Gary T. Henry (education policy, educational evaluation, and school turnaround), Laura Desimone (state, district, and school-level policy in relation to teaching and student achievement), Doug Archbald (educational leadership and policy), Elizabeth Farley-Ripple (policy analysis and evidence-based decision-making), Sarah Bruch (social policies and educational institutions), Lauren Bailes (political efficacy and democratic participation in school policy systems), and Bryan VanGronigen (organizational resilience and change management in schools).

Education & Social Policy Research at UD
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