Business and Industry | School Districts
Although not usually included in the category of “Business and Industry”, public
school districts not only share many of the characteristics of other businesses,
but are critical determinants of the future success for all local industries and
businesses. Much of the focus here shall be on examining proficiency in “English
Language Arts” among school districts in Southern California.
Why might this matter to business and industry?
“It is estimated that poor English skills cost the U.S. economy $65 billion in lost
It is likely that these cost s fall disproportionately on California.
Map 1 (to the right) indicates that California has the lowest score in the
nation on degree of “Linguistic Integration” in its public schools. Furthermore,
schools in Southern California tend to fare less well on measures of “Language Arts”
than do schools in the north, as displayed in Map 2.
There are many predictors of student performance in the language arts, including
the percentage minority enrollment in a district, percentage of students in the
free/reduced lunch program (a proxy for poverty), percentage of “English Language
Learners” , percentage of credentialed teachers, average class size, and average
teacher salary. The Document (to
the right) examines each of these predictors in relation to outcomes, but also introduces
two less well-known predictors:
- Percentage of “Linguistically-isolated” Hispanic households
- The Hispanic “Teacher-Student Gap”.
A “Linguistically-isolated household” is one in which nobody older than 14 speaks
English “well”. Map 3 suggests that proficiency in a district is inversely
related to the portion of households that are “isolated”. Similarly,
Map 4 suggests that proficiency also is inversely related to the Hispanic
“Teacher-Student Gap”, which is defined as the gap in Hispanic representation among
teachers, compared to that among students in the district, weighted by the relative
representation of Hispanics in the school district.
Virtually all variation among district measures of “Language Arts” proficiency can
be explained by these two predictors, and this model also can be used to identify
districts that are over-performing or under-performing, relative to the composition
of their student body and teacher ethnicity.
Contributors: Marjo Mitsutomi is Director School of Education, Orange County Campus,
University of Redlands. Jerry Platt is Professor of Business at the University of