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Measuring Education Output in Elementary and Secondary Schools: An Exploratory Analysis

Susan G. Powers


Education services in the United States are provided by a mixture of public and private organizations and include both non-profit and for-profit entities. Measuring education output evokes all of the usual measurement issues arising with service outputs, further complicated by production in nonmarket situations. This paper presents exploratory research towards developing a measure of education output for NAICS 61, Education Services: NAICS 611110, Elementary and Secondary Schools. Input-based output measures, often used to capture services produced in a nonmarket setting, are of limited value. These measures are not appropriate for use in measuring productivity, since the output growth rate is based on the related input growth rates. This paper presents and compares alternative physical volume based measures for elementary and secondary school education services. Using data on the number of students enrolled in public schools and private schools and national test scores, both unadjusted and quality adjusted education output measures for “all students“ are constructed. Heterogeneous output measures accounting for differences in disabled and non-disabled public school student education services and test scores are also constructed and compared. In addition, measures explicitly including selected non-instructional services (food and transportation services) are constructed and compared for both the “all students“ and “disabled/non-disabled“ measures.