Indicators of Educational Inequality in U.S. States 1993 – 2011

Can better indicators of school financing reduce the poverty achievement gap?

Unequal distribution of education funding within states and districts is seen as a major source of inequality in education outcomes between low-income students and their higher-income peers. Court decisions intended to reduce funding variability have been widely viewed as a lever to reduce outcome disparities. For this lever to work effectively, we need better information on indicators of school financing. This study will make a contribution by developing reliable measures of funding equity and adequacy to track fairness of state school finance. Baker will analyze annual data, primarily at the school district level, across all states from 1993 through 2012. First, Baker will create indicators of school finance adequacy and equity. He will then link the indicators of funding to variability in teacher compensation, class size, and other schooling conditions typically regarded as highly sensitive to funding. Baker will also develop student outcome measures to assess the feasibility of testing whether state level changes in funding adequacy and equity are associated with student outcomes. The findings will lay the groundwork for developing school funding systems that provide the resources that schools and teachers actually need to reduce the poverty achievement gap.

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