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Four Approaches to Assigning Costs to Central Levels vs. School Levels When Calculating Per-Pupil Expenditures

BY Laura Anderson
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Marguerite Roza and Katherine Hagan

Published September 2017 by Building State Capacity & Productivity Center

ESSA now requires all states to collect and report school-level per-student expenditures, with some states reporting as early as 2019. In the interest of uniformity, state education agencies are considering setting statewide rules for assigning expenditures to the district or school level.

In this brief, we map four approaches states can take and weigh benefits and considerations for each. But most critical is the need for all states to ensure that all expenditures are captured and reported in the school’s grand total, per-pupil expenditure sum—both those assigned directly to the school and each school’s portion of the shared expenditures at the district. Only then will school-level, per-student totals be comparable across districts and states, enabling the use of data to better understand equity and productivity and improve schooling for students.

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