Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. David Cowden

Second Advisor

Dr. Jianping Shen

Third Advisor

Dr. Ronald Crowell


Many of the recent financial reforms failed to address the needs of at-risk children. Effective solutions to the problems of the educationally disadvantaged must include changes within the schools, how the schools are funded, and how the schools spend their funding. Michigan’s 1994 finance reform included a funded plan for “unequal treatment of unequals” directed for the support of at-risk students. This fund was called Section 31a Program for At-Risk Pupils and involved a 230 million dollar compensatory education funding allowance for students at risk of school failure. This study presented here will determine if there is a relationship between three related variables regarding Section 31a funding for at risk students in the State of Michigan. The study establishes how at-risk money is being used to address the needs of at-risk K-5, 6-8, and 9-12 students in addition to determining if economic differences between districts result in a different pattern of spending. Research involved two statistical techniques to measure the data: Spearman Rho and two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). The population for this study was a sample of 105 school districts in the State of Michigan broken down into three economic groups representing wealthy, intermediate, and poor districts. Analysis of data revealed a moderately positive correlation between what the surveyed districts “say” and what they “do” with Section 32a funding. The identification of the most important grade level for intervention showed a strong, positive correlation between what districts “say” and what districts “do” with at-risk money. In the ANOVA studies, three categories of district wealth and three categories of grade level resulted in a split between no difference in spending to some significant differences. Further research should center around alternative ways of measuring student success. With achievement difficult to define, other variables of achievement, such as financial earnings, quality of life, contentment, and successful marriages and families, are potential variables to determine success. Making these factors dependent variables instead of dollars spent may be a better way to establish student success.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access