August 27, 2014

PSEA Report: Poorest students pay biggest price for school funding cuts

Budget Cuts Student Poverty and Test Scores - CoverWhen Gov. Tom Corbett slashed nearly $1 billion from public schools in 2011, he created a school funding crisis that gets worse every year these funds are not restored.

But these funding cuts are most painful for students who live in low-income communities. 

A new PSEA research report finds that school funding cuts have hurt Pennsylvania’s poorest school districts and its neediest students the most, with larger classes and a drop in student achievement on standardized test scores.

The report, Budget cuts, student poverty, and test scores: Examining the evidence, relies on data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to examine the effects of school funding cuts since 2011.

Researchers wrote that funding cuts to the poorest school districts averaged more than three times the size of cuts for the most affluent districts. Class sizes have risen as a result, with PDE data showing a greater increase in student-to-teacher ratios in districts with higher poverty than in the wealthiest districts.

“The school funding crisis is hurting every school district and every student in Pennsylvania, but the impact on our poorest districts and the students they serve is just devastating,” said PSEA President Michael Crossey. “Poor school districts rely on state funding the most and have the least ability to replace it with local revenues. Depriving students in those districts of needed resources is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing.”

What does this mean for student achievement? PSEA researchers found that students across the economic spectrum scored lower on state-mandated reading and math tests in the wake of the funding cuts, and the decline was steepest among districts with high percentages of impoverished students. 

“Pennsylvania public schools are among the best in the nation, but Gov. Corbett's school funding cuts are starting to undermine the great progress we have made,” Crossey said. “Pennsylvania desperately needs new leadership in Harrisburg to ensure every student continues to get a high-quality public education.”

PSEA's new report confirms findings from research from other organizations, suggesting that none of Pennsylvania’s main educational indicators have been moving in the right direction under Gov. Corbett.

Learn more: Read PSEA's full report to review all the findings and to view charts detailing the impact of the school funding cuts. You can also see how your school district fares in the 2014-15 state budget with PSEA's School Funding Calculator at




Member Advocacy Center

Featured Video