While most people understand K-12 education spending in terms of average district per-pupil amounts, how districts distribute federal, state and local dollars between schools has long been a mystery even to district superintendents. But many have theorized that seeing distribution levels by school can reveal to the public how (or whether) money boosts academic results and whether money is being spent as intended.
The market research firm IDC estimates that $4.9 billion was spent on devices by K-12 schools in 2015, and the Software and Information Industry Association estimates that nearly $8.4 billion was spent on software. Yet the same device or program can cost more from one state to another and even from district to district. Responsibility to negotiate with vendors falls on school districts that often do not have the time or resources to drive a hard bargain.
Tucked into a report filed with the $1.3 trillion government funding bill passed last week is a reminder to states — through the federal Education Department — that their ESSA accountability plans must include assurances that they’ll require districts to use school improvement dollars for organizations or individuals “that have practical expertise in the development or use of evidence-based strategies and programs to improve teaching, learning, and schools.”
The survey asks districts about whether they offer financial incentives either to help recruit new teachers or to target bonus payment to specific teachers. The survey provides eight different financial incentive options. The first four types of incentives are intended as recruitment tools and are, by nature, short-term rewards. The remaining four incentives are intended to reward specific types of teachers or those filling specific needs the district may have, and the reward is generally more permanent.
Beaverton is one of a rapidly expanding network of districts in the Smarter School Spending coalition, which uses so-called “continuous improvement” tools to integrate budget and academic staff and planning in schools. Instead of a small circle of staff poring over spreadsheets in marathon budget meetings once or twice a year, the districts involve everyone from finance officers and principals to teachers and janitors in ongoing conversations about solving instructional problems in sustainable ways.
Op-Ed: Money matters in education, as long as you spend it at the right time and on the right students
In one such study, infusions of dollars to poor school districts, as a result of court-ordered reform, led to a 10% increase in the predicted graduation rate for students from low-income families and a projected 10% rise in their lifetime earnings. Other research found that increasing K-12 spending by 10% added a half-year of schooling and a wage boost of nearly 10%. “A 22 percent increase in per-pupil spending,” the study concluded “is [estimated to be] large enough to eliminate the education gap between children from low-income and nonpoor families.”
“Kansas Lawmakers face an April 30 deadline to respond to the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling that the Legislature’s latest efforts to fund schools had fallen short. That gives them precious little time for such a complicated task as writing a new formula and then funding it. Taylor’s study…concluding that a link does indeed exist between spending and a student’s educational attainment. She said lawmakers must spend another $1.7 billion over five years to reach performance targets or an additional $2 billion to deliver enhanced educational outcomes…The analysis finds a strong, positive relationship between educational outcomes and educational costs,” Taylor concluded.
This country spends billions on private schools — and has a terrible learning gap between poor and wealthy
In practice, research shows mixed outcomes for the roughly 448,000 American students who attend private schools through taxpayer-funded programs. Some thrive, but many do not. And not all students who make use of voucher programs are low-income. Other countries have gone much further than the U.S. to subsidize their private schools. Their results are also mixed.
The commission’s report also recommends that Congress collect, monitor and evaluate school spending data to see what funds directly impact student outcomes. While districts are already required to report school spending to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act, many still struggle with the process. “In the coming years, schools will face a much greater degree of public scrutiny, so it will be critical for local leaders to control the narrative about spending,” says Carnock.
As the two major national teachers’ unions brace for a U.S. Supreme Court case that could cause a major blow to their membership numbers and revenue, they laid out their arguments in support of public-sector workers being mandated to pay monthly union fees.