Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies


The concept of return on investment for public education requires an understanding of the cumulative impact of resources employed to educate a student over time. The State of Vermont presented a unique opportunity to measure the return on investment as indicated by student outcomes. The governance structure of Vermont school districts allowed the identification of investments at the local school level, thereby enabling a match between the outcomes for 1355 students on the New Standards Reference Exam and cumulative investments over time. The longitudinal study examined the relationship between the cumulative investment made during the first eight years of school and student outcomes based upon three assessment points, in fourth, eighth and tenth grades for students within the sample. The study included an examination of the relationship between poverty, investments and student outcomes, indicated included Free or Reduced Lunch eligibility and Adjusted Gross Income. The study also examined the relationship between student performance and responses to the Opportunity to Learn Survey, assessing the student‟s perception of their school. Vermont Department of Education databases included financial investments from 1997 through 2004 and matched student outcomes on the New Standards Reference Exam in 2000, 2004, and 2006 in both English and Language Arts and Math. The results analysis indicated statistically significant relationships between student outcomes and investment which grew over time, and when the investments were more closely related to direct instruction on students, and were especially evident in math. Furthermore, there was a statistically significant relationship between levels of investment and outcomes for students within the same economic group and between students‟ responses to the Opportunity to Learn survey and investment levels. The results of this study provide legislators and policy makers with longitudinal clarification regarding the relationship between per pupil investment and student outcomes.