Does more school district administration lower educational productivity? : some evidence on the "administrative blob" in New York public schools

by Dominic J. Brewer

U.S. public schools are often criticized as overly bureaucratic: administration is said to consume too great a share of educational resources, to the detriment of educational productivity. Despite this common assertion, remarkably little is known about the resource allocation patterns of school districts, how these vary across districts, and how they have changed over time. This paper presents some evidence on resource allocation in New York state, using a panel of school districts, 1978-87. The paper then attempts to determine if there is any evidence at the district level of a systematic relationship between administrative inputs and educational output in the form of standardized test scores. A variety of statistical models is shown to yield inconsistent results, providing weak support for the contention that administrative resources are necessarily detrimental to educational productivity.

Originally published in: Economics of Education Review, v. 15, no. 2, 1996, pp. 111-124.

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