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State Revenues Outlook

map showing state general fund revenue estimates for FY24-25

This analysis provides estimates of year-over-year changes to state General Fund revenues.

Where and how does inequity creep in?

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Marguerite Roza gave this presentation as part of panel on “Understanding Educational Opportunity Gaps,” at the University of Virginia School of Law’s launch of the Education Rights Institute.

Recipe for High-Impact Research

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In this blog published by IES, the Edunomics Lab team shares lessons learned about making research more useful for practitioners, including designing visualizations and other tools around user needs to make data accessible, actionable, and impactful.

The Grid: A Framework to Explore Budgeting Choices

This tool helps school, district, and state leaders strategically weigh investments by calculating per-student costs and spelling out desired results, risks involved, and how effectiveness will be measured.

A Guide for SEA-led Resource Allocation Reviews

Resource allocation reviews (RARs) in districts that serve low-performing schools offer a new opportunity to examine the connection between resource allocation and academic outcomes. We’ve created guidance documents, templates, and tips to help SEAs prepare for and conduct RARs.

District are sending large sums out the door to vendors

We estimate 20-30% of ESSER is going toward contracts for purchased services, curriculum, supplies, one-time-projects, and more. Smart contracts and smart approval processes can help ensure they deliver real value for students.

Let’s Pay Parents to Help With Learning Recovery

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Some school districts are flush with cash, but can’t find enough people to fill their open roles. In this Education Week commentary Chad Aldeman asks: what if schools engage families to help make headway on student recovery efforts?

Districts play a starring role in school finance

For decades, the field of education finance has focused heavily on states (revenues, funding formulas). Now that attention is shifting to school districts’ spending choices, especially regarding federal ESSER funds.

30-Min Webinar: Is it too late for districts to redirect ESSER commitments to tackle learning gaps?

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The school year had already started when test scores emerged showing deep gaps in learning. Is it too late for districts to adjust their ESSER commitments to boost recovery efforts? In this webinar we share our latest look at ESSER spending and suggest ways that districts can redirect, and in some cases refocus, their federal relief funds to respond to emerging data on what students need most.

Time to Change the District Budget Dance

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Getting maximum value from available dollars is imperative, and may require some changes to the traditional budget process, writes Marguerite Roza in School Business Affairs Magazine.

Did public education miss the data revolution?

What data can shed light on whether recovery efforts are working? Are rates of chronic absenteeism coming down? Are students back on grade level in math? District leaders will only know to pivot if they look at the data.

Why Are Fewer People Becoming Teachers?

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What caused the decline in teacher-preparation enrollments and completions? Until we diagnose the problem accurately, we won’t be able to devise solutions to fix it, writes Chad Aldeman in Education Next.

Public Education Missed the Data Revolution. It’s Time to Catch Up

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Data-free schooling means the system can’t learn as it goes and improve on what it does. It means students aren’t getting the full value from the nation’s investment in public schooling, write Marguerite Roza and Chad Aldeman. What can be done to chip away at this data desert?

ESSER money is now pouring into schools

School districts have two years left to spend about $5 billion a month, raising spending about 9% above normal expenditure levels. Then, the spigot shuts off.

Opinion: The N.Y. Legislature’s big class size mistake

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In this New York Daily News op ed, Chad Aldeman argues that across-the-board class size caps in New York City may not benefit all students and will limit other spending that might be more effective, for example on extracurriculars or counselors or higher salaries for teachers.

Do districts need new budget moves?

It’s that time of year, the last step in what we call “The Budget Dance,” where school boards vote on a spreadsheet that officially becomes next year’s spending plan. What steps are missing in the process?

Inflation Will Put Districts in a Pickle

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With contract negotiations pending and federal relief funds complicating the labor market, how can school districts respond to rising inflation pressures? In this Education Next commentary, Marguerite Roza suggests options to help mitigate long-term fiscal impacts.

Look what the ESSER bunny brought!

Our new ESSER Expenditure Dashboard is now live. It tracks actual federal relief spending by district. We’ve got data for nearly half the states so far with more on the way.

ESSER Spending: Connecting Investments and Outcomes

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In this National Comprehensive Center webinar, Edunomics Lab shared an “investment tool” to help SEAs and LEAs assess their ESSER III investments and finalize spending plans to do the most for students.

Responding to a Tight Teacher Labor Market

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In this article in School Business Affairs Magazine, the authors outline the types of innovative compensation strategies some districts are using to attract and retain talent in response to a tight labor market.

The North Star of schooling

Getting students back on track is what ESSER is for, right? Or is it? With no clear end goal, focused objective, or common yardstick, ESSER desperately needs a North Star.

Focus On Student Outcomes, Not How Federal Funds Are Spent

Kids in line at school

Congress attached few strings to federal relief funds and will have to trust school districts to spend the money wisely. Chad Aldeman writes in Forbes that the Feds could now help clarify what the money was for by focusing on the student outcomes that matter most.

Celebrating a wave of changes to teacher compensation

Driven by pandemic staffing challenges, many districts have embraced new pay structures. Can these approaches pave the way for more nimble compensation packages that move beyond rigid, one-size-fits-all teacher salary schedules?

How COVID-19 Ushered in a Wave of Promising Teacher Pay Reforms

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This brief outlines the types of teacher pay innovations popping up in the midst of the pandemic, explains why they matter, and highlights some of the districts trying them. It remains to be seen whether some of these innovations may live on beyond the pandemic if district leaders find them effective.

The scarcity mindset that plagues education news

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Education finance is a messy topic for journalists, and this last year has made it especially hard to neatly summarize the issues. at Kappan, Chad Aldeman cautions that reporters who focus exclusively on questions of scarcity may perpetuate a false narrative and miss the biggest education finance story of the last decade: How are district leaders spending their new financial windfalls, and what effect is it having on students?

Decrease in Student Enrollment: Forcing Tough Decisions

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While the infusion of federal relief aid has temporarily protected most school districts from the fiscal impact of enrollment losses, this article in School Business Affairs magazine highlights why it’s important to proactively plan now for how to maintain services once those supplemental funds are gone.

The back-to-school labor crunch

It’s a strange time in the public education labor market, and districts are having to get creative to solve their workforce challenges.

Wise Spending of Your Federal Relief Funds

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As school districts decide how to spend their flexible federal relief funding, Marguerite Roza and Chad Aldeman offer five key questions to help ensure they make the most of it for students.

Communication Template for Principals on Use of Federal Relief Funds

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Based on messaging research on how district staff, principals, teachers, and parents engage with and react to information about school finance, this template will help principals engage their community in a way that cultivates trust and helps make the most of the federal relief dollars.  

The clock is ticking. Help is on the way

Districts have until the end of the summer to submit plans on how they’ll spend their one-time federal relief funds. Planning for these new dollars is an incredible challenge. And the stakes are high.

Teacher Dissatisfaction May Be High, But So Are Retention Rates

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Across Washington state, public schools retained a higher percentage of teachers last year than they do in normal years. That’s important information for school district leaders as they decide how to spend the windfall of federal relief funds headed their way.

Spending federal aid, military v. ed, & grants for NERD$

Our team has been fielding lots of requests about how to use the highly flexible federal relief dollars. With flexibility comes lots of responsibility to get it right. Toward that end, we recommend five key principles to guide spending decisions.

Desired Features of a State Funding System

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This decision tree describes the desired features of a state education funding formula and walks policymakers through key decisions and considerations around balancing efficiency, equity and trade-offs in particular contexts.

Teacher turnover, NERD$ & more

We’re excited to announce NERD$: National Education Resource Database on Schools, the first-ever national set of school-by-school spending data. Captured for research and comparisons, these data have potential to transform our understanding of ed finance.

Upcoming webinar, fun with charts & more

What’s going on with district finances? The answer: it depends. Districts that have been operating in-person since the fall have faced new costs, while districts that have been fully remote for the last year appear to be saving money on staff and facilities.

School Spending Data: A New National Data Archive

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This paper introduces a new national data archive that will capture year-over-year school-by-school spending figures reported by each state and enable easier cost-benefit analysis and new research on equity, innovation, and productivity at the school level.

30-Min Webinar: The New Federal Aid Package

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In this webinar we answer early questions about the new federal relief funds for education and share the latest financial updates and what they mean for state and district leaders in the coming months. 

Tips & tools to navigate ed finance in 2021

2021 is guaranteed to be tumultuous for public education finances! As we march forward, Edunomics Lab has several resources to help leaders navigate the unstable landscape ahead.

Lessons Learned: Weighted Student Funding

Edunomics Lab - Spending patterns, equity, and achievement in WSF districts

This brief summarizes findings from a three-year, U.S. Department of Education-funded research study analyzing the use of weighted student funding (WSF) at the district and state level.

Taking Stock of Principals’ Role in Weighted Student Funding Districts

Edunomics Lab - Spending patterns, equity, and achievement in WSF districts

In this brief, based upon a 2017-18 survey of 639 principals in 14 school districts implementing weighted student funding, we find that principals are actively engaged in the budget process and utilize their flexibilities, but often do not come into their role with the financial leadership training to carry out those tasks.

ED Surprises SEAs with New Data Release

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In this blog published by the National Center, Marguerite Roza discusses efforts to make new school-by-school spending data easier to find, interpret, and use.

30-Min Webinar: Updated Financials, and State and District Responses

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As shortfalls in state budgets take shape, the financial outlook for public education is changing rapidly. In this webinar we share the latest implications for district finances and staffing, and a round-up of how states and districts across the country are responding.

30-Min Webinar: Projections, Stimulus, and Typical District Actions

Ticker tape showing Corona virus and financial turmoil

What will the financial turmoil will mean for public education? In this webinar we share what we are learning about the economic outlook, CARES Act, other stimulus efforts, and what states and districts might consider as they make financial plans for the coming weeks and year.

The Big Bet on Adding Staff to Improve Schools Is Breaking the Bank

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By going all-in on staffing, we’ve crowded out other potential investments­ that can positively impact student learning. In this paper, Marguerite Roza writes that competing strategies should be viewed through the lens of which can do the most for students with the limited dollars at hand.

The “Would You Rather?” Test

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Education spending always involves choices, and smart choices require understanding value for the dollar. This paper uses the “would you rather” exercise to explore tradeoffs in school spending and think through the value of various cost-equivalent investments.

A Way to Get School Finances Back Under Control

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This commentary lays out why it may be time for states to establish agencies modeled on the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) to certify school district obligations before they take effect and push districts into financial crisis.

Training School Leaders to Spend Wisely

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This article in Education Next shines a light on the pressing need to better support district and school leaders in their work on the spending side of the equation.

A Checklist to Guide Data-Visualization Decisions

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This checklist will help SEAs determine what they hope to accomplish with their financial transparency reporting and which data elements to include in order to answer a range of critical questions.

The Productivity of Rural Schools

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Remote rural districts are often more expensive and yield lower student outcomes than urban and suburban districts. Yet some rural districts generate higher-than-expected learning results without proportionately higher spending. Based on interviews with leaders in 30 rural remote districts, Marguerite Roza identifies six factors that make some districts “productivity superstars.”


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