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Alpenglow: Binghamton University Undergraduate Journal of Research and Creative Activity

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Valerie Imbruce

Abstract

This project analyzes student exam scores in the Binghamton City School District (BCSD) in comparison to New York State averages and to the school districts in Troy, Schenectady, Utica, and Niagara Falls. By collecting data from twenty-one different school years, provided by New York State on the New York State Education Data Site (NYSED), we illustrate a clear decline from the state mean in Binghamton’s academic performance that remains in line with the pattern of academic performance in the other four, previously mentioned, school districts. To look at why this is occurring, we collected population data from the U.S. Census Bureau; gathered budgeting and education data from NYSED and the United States Department of Education; and conducted interviews with district leaders to understand factors that influence student achievement. Our analysis reveals a rate of population mobility and a pattern of per-pupil expenditure - within the Binghamton community - that is disproportionately higher when compared to averages at the state level and with some of its peers. Our study indicates that ELA exam scores rise with the increase of expenditures, while math scores do not, and that total expenditures are more impactful than instructional. Research also points to poverty and parent engagement as influential factors on exam scores but is unable to make any definitive correlation. Despite what our interviews suggested would be the case, results do not support population mobility as a determining factor in exam outcomes. Our results suggest that policies that allocate expenditures more effectively, that keep parents involved, and that revise current testing standards when considered in conjunction with our literature review, are the most necessary state education reform for education. Results alone, however, are unable to point to any definitive causes behind BCSD’s underperformance or provide solutions.

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