Document Type



In this research study, I focused on the correlation between per pupil expenditures of three school systems - a low funded suburban school, a moderately funded suburban school, and a well-funded urban school - and the scores students received on their fifth grade state standardized test for science (MCAS). These three school systems have different demographics, and varying levels of both state aid and average family income. As a result, each school system spends different amounts on their science programs and on each individual student’s education for the school year. Previous research has found that school size and per pupil expenditure had no impact on student performance on the STAAR Biology exams, while socio-economic status, student mobility rate, and percentage of non-white students all had negative effects on student exam scores (Barton 2015). However, similar studies have never looked at the science MCAS test results for elementary students in Massachusetts. This study first examined the success of students on the fifth grade science MCAS from the last ten years. It compared this to changes in the overall budget for each school district from the last decade. Finally, it explored the budgets of each school system, including how the budget is determined for each district, through interviews with administrators. The hypothesis was that the more money allocated to each individual student and overall science budget, the higher the collective results of the fifth grade students’ science MCAS scores. Instead, this study found the three school districts moved towards having fewer students scoring on the highest or lowest categories, with students scoring in middle ranges regardless of if budgets increased. Alternately, it seems that school culture and socioeconomic status of families from the school districts may be factors contributing to the varying levels of student performance on the fifth grade science MCAS.


Elementary Education

Thesis Comittee

Nicole Glen (Thesis Director)

Andrea Cayson

Jennifer Manak

Copyright and Permissions

Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.