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New Requirement to Publish Per-Pupil Spending Data Could Help Schools Direct Funding to the Neediest Students

The 74 Million |

The Every Student Succeeds Act, which became law in 2015, required states for the first time to add per-student funding to their school report cards rather than districtwide averages that tended to obscure funding imbalances between similar schools in the same community.

The requirement, which went into effect this year, “has created a whole new lens into how money is spent and allocated in schools,” said Jim Cowen, executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success, a nonprofit focusing on academic standards and assessments.

One school receiving more money than another doesn’t necessarily mean their services are inequitable, but parents can now see, for example, whether a school with more special education students or English learners receives more resources.

The new requirement can also show how much is being spent on administration or instruction, allowing parents to see whether schools with the greatest needs have teachers with more or less experience.

The problem is that not all states are displaying the data in “ways that are meaningful and actionable to communities,” according to this year’s Show Me the Data report from the Data Quality Campaign.

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