American Sociological Association

Delayed Benefits: Effects of California School District Bond Elections on Achievement by Socioeconomic Status

Contradictory evidence of the relationship between education funding and student achievement could reflect heterogeneous effects by revenue source or student characteristics. This study examines potential heterogeneous effects of a particular type of local revenue—bond funds for capital investments—on achievement by socioeconomic status. Comparing California school districts within a narrow window on either side of the cutoff of voter support required to pass a general obligation bond measure, I use dynamic regression discontinuity models to estimate effects of passing a bond on academic achievement among low- and high-socioeconomic-status (SES) students. Results consistently suggest that passing a bond increases achievement among low- but not high-SES students. However, these benefits for low-SES students are delayed and emerge six years after an election. Effects are larger in low-income districts and in small districts, where benefits of capital investments are experienced by a larger proportion of students.


Emily Rauscher





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