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A Moment of (Early) Truth: Taking Stock of School-by-School Spending Data

BY debraabritt
image of first page of report

Lucy Hadley, Elizabeth Ross, and Marguerite Roza
Published July 13, 2020

Nearly five years ago, a small but consequential provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) got stacked into a pile of new things states need to do. For the first time, states were required to make public per-student spending for every school in the country (versus the usual district and state per-pupil averages, which can mask big school-by-school spending differences). 

The hope was that the data would be a game changer in that it would prompt districts to re-examine how they spend dollars across schools, with more intention paid toward equity and improving education. But big questions and concerns emerged: Could states pull off the data task? Would the data be any good? Would it be useful and usable? Would it spark widespread political havoc? 

With the June 30, 2020, reporting deadline in the rear-view mirror, this 2-pager offers first-cut answers to early headliner—and newly emerging—questions.


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