Blog

Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.

Budget & Finance

Why School-Level Numbers Matter in the K-12 Funding Fight

By Daarel Burnette II — August 26, 2019 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Thousands of administrators across the country have spent countless hours this summer attempting to rejigger their school finance software to determine how much money they spend on each individual school—a new reporting requirement under the Every Student Succeeds Act. Will it be worth all the headaches? A new federal report suggets the answer is yes.

Unlike the more familiar average per-pupil spending levels, school-level funding will highlight funding disparities between student groups and help administrators target resources to academically struggling schools, policymakers and advocates predict.

It’s certainly an ambitious goal—and a heavy lift. Many administrators have complained to their state departments that states won’t be able to clearly delineate between a school-level cost and an administrative overhead cost and that school spending data won’t be compareable across districts. They also say they don’t have the staff to collect such detailed information and fear that the data will just cause more confusion among the public.

But a recently released study based on a pilot project in 2014 by the National Center for Education Statistics says that collecting school-level data is, in fact, feasible, and that, if done right, could be a useful tool to develop policy.

“As the number of states participating in the (school level funding) increases and the collection continues to expand, response rates and the availability of complete, accurate, and comparable public-use finance data should improve,” researchers said.

The study is based on 15 states that in the 2014 and 2015 school years agreed to a participate in a federal pilot program to determine school-level spending.

Researchers noted that of the 15 states that collected the data, at least eight managed to collect more than 95 percent of all school personnel costs and another seven were able to collect non-personnel items such as school supplies and transportation costs.

And the researchers said the data is consistent with other federal data sets that track teacher salaries and other school expenses. As states and districts continue to update their school finance software, the data, researchers predict, will become more and more reliable.

But researchers at NCES said some concern remains in the field, including skepticism among finance professionals about the importance of collecting school-level funding and navigating legal and technical challenges that can make collecting the data for some districts especially challenging.

One goal many researchers and advocates have is to compare spending data to academic outcomes. They predict that knowing what academically successful schools spend their money on will bolster claims that how you spend your money can, in fact, improve academic outcomes.

More than 16 states now have reported school-level spending, according to Edunomics, a research lab based at Georgetown University that tracks states’ attempts to comply with the ESSA requirement.

Read the entire report here.

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Budget & Finance Why Failing to Require Masks Could Cost Districts Millions Later
Some insurance providers are threatening to cancel districts' coverage this school year—particularly if they break statewide mask mandates.
9 min read
Image of a dial that assesses problems, dangers, risks, and liabilities.
iStock/Getty
Budget & Finance Will Teachers Get Vaccinated for $1,000?
More and more districts are offering cash to employees who get vaccinated, hoping that the money will help tamp down COVID-19 spread.
6 min read
Image of a dollar bill folded into an upward arrow.
ImagePixel/iStock/Getty
Budget & Finance Opinion Three Tips for Spending COVID-19 Funds in Evidence-Based Ways
If COVID-19 funds targeted for evidence-based practices are going to deliver, it's crucial to be clear on what evidence is actually helpful.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Budget & Finance How Kids Benefit When Principals Get a Say in Spending Federal COVID-19 Aid
In some districts, principals play a key role in targeting federal pandemic relief money, but in other places they're left out.
8 min read
Nicole Moore, the principal at Indian Mills School, stands near the summer literacy program held in a small lot at Fawn Lake Village in Shamong, New Jersey on July 6, 2021. Moore worked with teachers to develop a summer literacy program for disadvantaged students who live in the district.
Nicole Moore, principal of Indian Mills School, in Shamong, N.J., worked with a teacher and the district superintendent to start a summer program using federal aid for COVID-19 relief.
Eric Sucar for Education Week