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California’s weighted student funding formula: Does it help money matter more?

Elena Derby and Marguerite Roza

December 2017

In 2013, California moved to drive more resources for students with higher needs, create more spending flexibility and let districts decide how to spend substantial new dollars by adopting a new watershed state finance policy, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). As California’s Weighted Student Funding (WSF) law enters Year 5 of implementation, we investigate whether we are seeing an improved relationship between spending and outcomes in the early years of LCFF. Given that one of WSF’s main policy aims is to promote a more productive use of dollars, it makes sense to investigate that relationship.

Our early finding suggests a more positive relationship between funding and student outcomes after LCFF than before LCFF. In other words, money appeared to matter more in the wake of LCFF. This December 2017 analysis of data from some 600 districts launches what we hope will be a new wave of much-needed research on education productivity. With LCFF, California has undertaken one of the nation’s largest weighted student funding (WSF) overhauls to date. As such, its experience is of national interest. This paper is part 3 of a series analyzing early impacts of LCFF.


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