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Study: Lowest And Highest Performing Eastern Kentucky Schools Share Much In Common

A study comparing the highest and lowest performing public schools in Eastern Kentucky has yielded some surprising results.

The brainchild of student and Appalachian native Tony Huffman, the yearlong study compared a number of indicators at the schools. Huffman says he was surprised to find that spending per student, teacher-to-student ratios, and teacher credentials were nearly identical across many schools with wildly different achievement numbers.

The differences began to show up in how schools set expectations for students and dealt with personnel issues that related to teachers.

Larger national studies have found some links between spending per student and the quality of education, though the correlation isn’t always clear cut. Education Week’s annual K-12 Achievement Index released this year showed states with the top five grades in achievement all falling within the top 15 for funding per student.

But a Senior Research Associate at the Education Week Research Center cautioned that funding is not necessarily “the deciding factor” when it comes to quality.

Huffman had planned on an eventual career in education policy research, but after finding little in the way of clear explanations for poor school performance, he says he now plans to pursue a degree in art history.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.