The Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 mandated changes in the methods of funding education in Kentucky. The newly adopted methods of funding primary and secondary schools have brought questions of accountability to the forefront in Kentucky's tests of achievement, called KIRIS tests. These methods, however, ignore the geographical context for teachers, schools, and school districts. At this time, the accountability movement has given little attention to how much socioeconomic context influences educational outcomes. Furthermore, there is almost no recognition in the research literature that socioeconomic factors are spatially distributed and thus can be subjected to geographic analysis. The purpose of this investigation is to show how such an analysis might be done using Kentucky accountability results. This study analyzes spatial patterns of recent KIRIS scores using regression methods. An examination has been made of the residuals from the regression analysis for spatial autocorrelation using Moran's I. Results indicate that including contextual effects as explanatory variables reduces the spatial autocorrelation and provides a more reliable measure of school and school district performance.
Occasional Research Paper, no. 3, September, 1999.