Utah, New Jersey, Ohio, and Minnesota are among the 17 states that have the most progressive state funding programs that provide greater funding to high-poverty areas, according to a new report that assesses the equity of school funding around the nation.
However, in spite of these states’ ability to provide funding where it is needed the report also shows that many schools do not get the resources that they desperately need.
“The Report is designed to shine a spotlight on the states’ critical role in funding public education and the importance of fair funding as an essential element of ongoing efforts to boost academic performance in our nation’s schools,” the authors wrote in the executive summary.
The authors of the study, Bruce Baker, an associate professor in educational theory at Rutgers University, David Sciarra, the Executive Director of the Education Law Center, and Danielle Farrie, the Research Director at the Education Law Center, define fair school funding as a funding system that ensures equal educational opportunity by adjusting funding levels for school poverty.
The authors analyzed state funding systems using four different indicators:
• Funding level – the states are ranked based on the average per pupil funding.
• Funding distribution – shows whether a state provides more or less funding to schools based on their poverty level.
• Effort – States are graded according to the ratio of state spending on education to per-capita gross domestic product.
• Coverage – measures the proportion of school-age children attending the state’s public schools and also addresses the income disparity between families using private schools and those sending their children to public schools.
Only six states—Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico and Vermont—did well in all four indicators, with most states needing to improve in at least one indicator. And six states—Illinois, North Carolina, Alabama, Michigan, Texas and Colorado—have funding systems where districts in high-poverty areas receive less funding.
“The ability to improve states’ educational outcomes, whether closing achievement gaps, increasing college and career readiness, or supporting teacher quality, depends on the foundation of a fair school funding system,” the authors wrote.
The report showed that the national funding level, adjusted for student poverty and regional wage variation, rose $642 to $10,774 from the last report in 2010.
With the report coming at a time when education reform, the report comes as a call to administrators, politicians and educators to focus on the funding allocation issues as an important aspect of reform.
“As the nation engages in the important discussions of how to improve our schools, we encourage stakeholders to recognize that no reform can be successful unless built upon an equitable and fair funding system,” the authors wrote.
Jillian Reed is a writer for 360 Education Solutions