Two other sides of Fiscal Effort : Equity & Adequacy.
Equity Should Not be Confused with Equality Equality means treating everyone the same under the law Equity involves giving people the treatment they need
Spending Equality ? If equality governed school spending, everyone would receive the same level of funding Everyone cannot be treated the same because needs differ Equality cannot be the sole principle to govern school finance.
Spending Equality ?, cont. Inherent inequities exist within school districts, schools, and within classrooms Staffing a special education classroom costs more than staffing a general education classroom
Equity: A Medical Model A patient suffering with a rare form of cancer costs more to treat than the well one who needs only a flu shot No one would expect both patients’ bills to be the same. One will necessarily cost more than the other So it is with education. Some of our patients’ needs will cost more to care for than others.
2 Hypothetical School Systems 1 st - Urban school system with: 25% of its students identified as eligible to receive special education services 50+% of the student body reading more than two years below grade level 90% of the students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch
2 Hypothetical School Systems, cont. 2 nd -Suburban school system with: 99% of its students reading on or above grade level 2% identified as eligible to receive special education services 0% eligible for free and reduced-price lunch
2 Hypothetical School Systems, cont. To provide funds necessary for each school systems to be successful will be more costly for the first school system For both to be funded equally, at some arbitrary level, would be inherently INequitable The second school system has much greater needs and subsequently greater costs.
School Finance & EQUITY School finance must be concerned with equity – providing what students need Measuring equity becomes complicated & requires sophisticated statistical procedures Measuring equity has also been the basis of legal challenges of many states’ finance formulae
Equality Is an Important Principle When schools or school systems are considered equal, their funding should be equal
Schools A & B Both secondary schools in the same school district. Both have 1,500 students. Both have the same % of students: – On free and reduced lunch – Eligible for special education – Going on to higher education upon graduation Both schools have similar facilities and programs
Schools A & B, cont. If the funding for School A were 20% higher than for School B, we would consider there to be a fundamental unfairness in the funds allocation.
Horizontal Equity Students who are alike should receive equal shares (of funding) Horizontal equity is measured by calculating the dispersion, or inequality, in the distribution of funds When there is no dispersion in funds, one can assume there is perfect horizontal equity
Horizontal Equity, cont. When this occurs, there are equal expenditures in funding levels such as in per pupil expenditures, student/teacher ratios, equal teacher resources, and the like across various measures.
Horizontal Equity, cont. Horizontal equity can be applied broadly in comparing large and similar subgroups of students For example, we can compare: All vocational students at the high school level All full-day kindergarten students All students in general education elementary classrooms In this case, we would expect spending, or resource allocation, to be substantially similar for each of these rather large subgroups.
Research Trends Unclear One 50-state study revealed that between 1970 and 1975,spending disparities among states increased Another study showed that several states involved in school finance reform improved horizontal equity & fiscal neutrality, 1970-75 A 1997 General Accounting Office study found substantial improvements in equity over time Other studies show that significant financial disparities still remain in horizontal equity among the states
Vertical Equity Vertical equity recognizes that students and schools are different and that the treatment of unequals requires appropriate unequal treatment While horizontal equity is rather easy to quantify, vertical equity choices are based on value
Vertical Equity, cont. “Appropriate treatment” varies from one school division to another.
“Appropriate Treatment” Legitimate factors must be identified that can be used to allocate resources differently based on: The characteristics of the students The characteristics of the schools or the school districts The characteristics of various programs
Legitimate Factors Include: Percent of eligibility for free and reduced lunch Percent of students speaking English as a second language Percent of students involved with special education services Most educators would agree that serving these students’ needs requires additional services if they are to meet the challenges of high-stakes testing programs such as No Child Left Behind.
Fiscal Neutrality Equity is achieved when the distribution of services is determined by the taxpayers’ preferences for education and not by the fiscal capacity of the locality or state This is also known as taxpayer equity or wealth neutrality
Reconciling Fiscal Neutrality & Equity How do states provide for fiscal neutrality while assuring equity? By calculating a lower cost for services to those who can least afford to pay for the services = Equalization of Funding.
Equalizing Funding Each state provides some method for equalizing the funding within its boundaries More than 2/3 of the 50 states have had their state funding formula contested in court The equalization concept is a continuum that ranges from total equalization to no equalization
Absolute & Approximate Fiscal Equalization Absolute fiscal equalization is more of a theoretical goal than a practical achievement While it is possible in theory, it is virtually impossible to achieve politically
Absolute Fiscal Equalization Absolute fiscal equalization is achieved whenever the following three objectives are achieved: Variance in fiscal position among local school districts has been neutralized Variance in fiscal effort among local school districts has been eliminated Variance in educational needs due to incidence of clients has been accommodated
Absolute Fiscal Equalization, cont. Absolute fiscal equalization is achieved whenever the following three objectives are achieved: Local school divisions have equal resources to fund schools Local school divisions make equal effort to fund schools Schools spend what is needed to educate students with special learning needs
Absolute Fiscal Equalization, cont. This definition achieves fiscal neutrality and addresses the issues of horizontal and vertical equity This is a theoretical and not a practical concept
Approximate Fiscal Equalization Approximate fiscal equalization is achieved whenever the following three objectives are achieved: Variance in fiscal position among local school districts has been neutralized Constrained variance in fiscal effort among local school districts is permitted Variance in educational needs due to incidence of clients has been accommodated
Approximate Fiscal Equalization, cont. Approximate fiscal equalization is achieved whenever the following three objectives are achieved: Local school districts have equal resources to fund schools Local school divisions have some leeway in how they raise & spend money for schools Schools spend what is necessary to educate students with special learning needs
Absolute & Approximate Fiscal Equalization The two definitions are similar except: The 2nd condition allows for constrained or controlled spending by the local school districts Neutralized fiscal position and meeting clients’ educational needs in spite of the local capacity are still required
State Aid Grants to Districts Each state equalizes for the fiscal capacity of local districts through its method for funding localities This funding usually comes through grants of various types
State Aid Grants Continuum Inequity Equity Non- Matching Flat Equalization Full State Equilization Grants Grants Grants Funding Grants
Nonequalization Grants Non-equalization grants make no attempt to equalize funding for the capacity of local school districts Grants may be categorical aid to school divisions allocating a constant dollar amount on a per pupil basis based on an application process Poorer school divisions may not have the personnel to write the grants enabling them to qualify for the funds
Flat Grants Flat grants provide a fixed amount of funding per pupil to each school district in the state This funding is not based on the locality’s fiscal capacity Most states do not use flat grants as the primary vehicle for distributing funds to localities
Examples of Flat Grants California’s Constitution requires $120 of state funding per pupil to each locality – regardless of the locality’s fiscal position Virginia’s Constitution requires that the locality fund no more than 80% and no less than 20% of state standards, regardless of the locality’s capacity
Equalization Impact of Flat Grants School Local Local Flat Grant Total Spending District Property Revenue Amount Per Pupil Value A $ 5,000 50 2,000 2,050 B $ 50,000 500 2,000 2,500 C $250,000 2500 2,000 4,500 D $500,000 5000 2,000 7,000
Flat Grants with Increased State Support School Local Local Flat Grant Total Spending District Property Revenue Amount Per Pupil Value A $ 5,000 25 4,000 4,025 B $ 50,000 250 4,000 4,250 C $250,000 1250 4,000 5,250 D $500,000 2500 4,000 6,500
Flat Grants with Increased State Support, cont. Greater burden placed on the state to provide for education services reduces the disparity in total per pupil spending, increasing equalization.
Equalization Grants Equalization grants provide for greater state funding for the localities with less capacity to raise their own funds and provide for less state funding for the localities with greater capacity
Foundation Programs Foundation programs are a means of providing equalization grants to school systems A foundation program establishes some minimum level of per- pupil funding that must be met with a combination of local and state funding No district can fall below this foundation level
Foundation Programs Once the foundation level has been met, local districts are free to supplement funding, called leeway funds, to achieve a higher level of per-pupil spending if they so elect
Foundation Grants Local State Foundation Local Total Capacity Aid Level Leeway Funding A $ 1,000 9,000 10,000 0 10,000 D $ 7,500 2,500 10,000 2,500 12,500 E $ 10,000 0 10,000 2,500 12,500
Foundation Grants Equalize Funding In this scenario, school district E has ten times the capacity of school district A, yet spends only 25% more on a per pupil basis Where the capacity differential was initially 10 to 1, the spending differential due to the foundation formula is now only 1 to 1.25
What This Means for Students The poorest school district (A) now has the financial means to provide the state’s the minimum foundation level – regardless of their capacity to fund education services This enables school district A to compete with district E in terms of programs, in effect raising the education bar for all students in that state
“Minimum” Funding? State legislatures frequently see the word minimum as the spending limits Too often “minimum” becomes the target level of funding and does not advance beyond the minimum
“Minimum” Funding?, cont. Localities may elect not to add sufficient leeway funds (based either on values or available resources) while higher capacity systems may add substantially higher dollar amounts, exacerbating the per pupil spending disparity
“Minimum” Funding?, cont. State governments may be reluctant to set adequate levels of spending for a foundation program because elected officials cannot agree on what is “ adequate ”
Guaranteed Tax Base Programs A second type of equalization grant is the Guaranteed Tax Base program (GTB) GTB programs guarantee that each locality can operate as if all school districts had an equal per pupil property tax base
Guaranteed Tax Base Programs, cont. The state determines its share of spending for the total cost of education The formula then provides a means for deciding how much funding would come to each locality, based on a measure of their wealth More state funding goes to low capacity systems while less aid goes to high capacity systems
Guaranteed Tax Base Programs, cont. Once the state aid is calculated, the tax rates are equalized so the same tax yield is achieved for rich or poor districts
Guaranteed Tax Base Programs, cont. A recapture clause provides that the state recaptures extra funds generated by wealthy localities and dispenses them to poorer localities, effectively increasing the state’s floor level of services
Combination Programs Other equalization formulae exist as hybrids between foundation programs and equalization programs These programs take the best of other formulae and apply those components to their particular conceptual framework
Calculating Vertical Equity Vertical equity means providing what people need Vertical equity recognizes that students and schools are different, and that the treatment of unequals requires appropriate unequal treatment
Weighted Pupil Approach Determining a base cost for various categories of students Once the lowest base cost is determined it is given a weight of 1.0
Weighted Pupil Approach Example Florida bases a weighting of 1.0 for the students in basic programs in grades 4 through 8 Kindergarten and grades 1 through 3 are weighted slightly higher with high school grades being even higher Weightings for vocational and special education are significantly higher ranging up to a factor of 15
Determining Adequacy by “Costing Out” After determining a “weight” for different services and learning needs, many school districts established means for “costing out” related services with state and federal funds Method used to determine the “costing out” of services can vary from state to state, district to district
Example: “Costing Out” Special Education Services Special Education Category Weighting Emotionally Disturbed 3.7 Socially Maladjusted 2.3 Deaf 4.0 Specific Learning Disability ( part time ) 7.5 Visually Disabled ( part time ) 10.0 Hospitalized and Homebound ( part time ) 15.0
Fiscal “Adequacy” is a Value-Driven Concept What is “enough” money to fund a school district? – To what standard of academic excellence for all pupils? – For what unique learning needs of this student population? – With which academic elective, extra- and co-curricular offerings?
Fiscal Adequacy Attempts to quantify “adequacy” and how much a state or school district needs to spend for its students remains ambiguous. The “adequacy” concept has been challenged in court since the 1990’s.
Fiscal Adequacy, cont. Recent legal challenges have shifted from disparities in school funding to adequacy issues.
A Definition of “Adequacy” “…providing sufficient funds for the average district/school to teach the average child to state standards, plus sufficient additional revenues for students with special needs to allow them to meet performance standards as well.” Odden, A. and Piccus, L. (2004). School Finance: A Policy Perspective, 3 rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Fiscal Adequacy School finance experts refer to four methods for discussing the concept of fiscal “adequacy”: Economic cost function Successful school district Professional consensus Cost of effective school-wide strategies (also known as state of the art or best practices)
Economic Cost Function Approach This statistical approach is used more frequently in business than in education Economic cost function tries to answer how much money per pupil is needed in a given school district to produce a certain level of student performance
Economic Cost Function Approach, cont. The result demonstrates the per pupil expenditure necessary to achieve certain levels of student performance given the student and district characteristics
Economic Cost Function Approach, cont. This model reflects certain values in determining adequacy Some individuals or community values play a role in deciding how much a community is willing to spend to achieve a certain level of student achievement
Research Shows Wide Variation in Adequacy Levels The adequacy spending levels ranged from 49 % to 460 % of the average in Wisconsin & 75 % to 158 % in Texas. In Wisconsin and Texas, the adequate expenditure level for large urban school districts ranged from three to four times that of the average district.
Successful School District This method identifies school districts which have had success in bringing student performance to state proficiency standards This approach then sets the adequacy spending level to the weighted average of the expenditure level of the successful districts
Problems with Successful School District Approach This method omits outliers (atypical districts) from the equation Unfortunately, virtually all large, urban areas, very wealthy and very poor districts, as well as small, rural systems are eliminated It also may inaccurately represent the actual costs of delivering adequate services in the atypical districts
Limitations: Successful School District Method Districts that have been identified as successful are generally average in size, non- urban, with little diversity in their student make up These districts also tend to spend less than the state average
Limitations: Successful School District Method, cont. Omitting schools that must address the major challenges that one finds in the “real world” artificially lowers the level for achieving success, raising questions about its usefulness and validity
Professional Consensus (“Judgment”) Approach Educational professionals identify the components of a “prototype” school they believe would enable the staff to teach students to some predetermined performance level The costed-out factors (number of professional and support staff, technology, instructional resources, etc.) add up to determine a school’s adequate financial base (that can be adjusted for varying student demographics)
Limitations: Professional Consensus Approach Provide little differentiation for the average school and one with a high concentration of at-risk students In spite of this drawback, the professional consensus approach is gaining interest at the state level
State-of-the-Art Approach Selects research findings on student achievement, frequently seen in high- achieving schools Identifies all ingredients needed for those research-identified teaching and learning strategies Determines a cost basis for each of the strategies Determines what an adequate base of spending for the school should be
State-of-the-Art Approach, cont. Funding determination is made for the school level and not as an average for the school division This approach allows the school to use a number of school-wide strategies that state-of-the art researchers and practitioners claim are most effective