Making the most of school-level per-student spending data
Interstate Financial Reporting (IFR) was created by states, for states, to meet the financial data reporting requirement under ESSA—and maximize the value of their efforts. Based on a set of voluntary, minimal reporting criteria, IFR is designed to produce data that have common meaning and can be used to make valid, apples-to-apples comparisons of school-level per-pupil expenditures across states nationwide. Why is this important? Many schools do not have demographically similar peer schools operating at similar per-pupil spending within their own districts—or even their own states.
With IFR, schools have the chance to learn from and measure progress against schools across the country that look like them both fiscally and demographically. This new level of detail in financial data collection and reporting presents an unprecedented opportunity to understand the relationship between school outcomes (which states have been reporting for more than a decade) and school spending. And the public reporting will make it easier to explore patterns in areas like resource equity and productivity across school types within and across regions. Education stakeholders at all levels can then leverage that understanding to drive improvements that benefit students.