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NERD$ Lessons Learned

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Why NERD$? For decades, large financial datasets captured only district-level spending data. But districtwide averages, whether for performance, spending, teacher salaries, or other data points, mask variation at the school level within districts. As with many other industries and policy areas, the use of aggregated and/or average data in education finance obscures the factors that may […]

ELab-U: Smart Money for School Leaders

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Smart Money for School Leaders is a collection of education finance instructional modules developed by Edunomics Lab, Georgetown University designed to provide hands-on finance skills for school leaders.

What will MoEquity mean for district budgets?

In this webinar Marguerite Roza and Chad Aldeman discuss the new guidance for the maintenance of equity provision and what it would mean for districts faced with implementing it.

School Finance for Equity and Innovation

On December 9, 2020 Marguerite Roza participated in California Charter Schools Association’s 2020 Education Symposium. She discussed leveraging data to lead efforts to improve equity and productivity, and how leaders can enable systems to navigate the financial turmoil ahead.

Webinar: The Changing Role of Education Finance Leadership

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This webinar explores connections and opportunities with ESSA’s financial transparency requirement, the new Supplement-not-Supplant requirement for a district “resource allocation methodology” and “resource allocation reviews,” and what each means for states and districts.

Webinar: Taking Stock as SEAs Begin Releasing Per-Pupil Spending Data

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In this webinar, Marguerite Roza and Katie Hagan examine school-by-school expenditures in states where data are available. They share how leading states are incorporating financial transparency data in school and district report cards and discuss what can be learned from these early adopters.

Webinar: An Introduction to Student-Based Allocation

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Designed for district and community leaders, this webinar shares how student-based allocation (SBA) works, why districts use SBA, what SBA formulas look like, and what steps and resources districts can take and tap to move toward SBA.

Equipping School Leaders to Spend Wisely

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In this article in the National Association of State Boards of Education journal, The Standard, Marguerite Roza writes that financial transparency presents state boards of education with a timely opportunity to turn the tide on local leader training.

Interstate Financial Reporting

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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.

Taking stock of California’s weighted student funding overhaul: What have districts done with their spending flexibility?

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In 2013 California adopted the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) to drive more resources to students with higher needs, create more spending flexibility, and let districts decide how to spend substantial new dollars. Our analysis examines financial data from nearly all California school systems to clarify how their spending choices changed in the first three years of the new state funding law.

Analyzing early impacts of California’s Local Control Funding Formula

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In 2013, California adopted the Local Control Funding Formula, shifting control over spending decisions from the state legislature to local school districts and eliminating many state-imposed spending rules. This three-part series analyzes early impacts of the LCFF, one of the nation’s largest weighted student funding (WSF) overhauls to date.

College credit in high school: Doing the math on costs

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Many policymakers see providing college credit in high school as a money saver, but little research has examined that belief. This brief helps fill the gap, investigating in three states the costs of taking college classes in high school compared to attaining credit after high school.

Student Based Allocation District Collaborative Meeting

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Edunomics Lab hosts a monthly virtual meeting of district finance leaders to share knowledge and solve challenges around student-based allocation practice and collectively produce research that districts need and want. These resources are from an in-person convening of the SBA Network plus other districts interested in learning more.

School Level Finance Survey Converter Tool

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This downloadable tool helps states combine data from two existing federal surveys to calculate school-level per-pupil expenditures for all schools and districts in their survey files and meet the new financial transparency requirement under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Financial Transparency & Equity

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The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires all states to collect and report per-pupil expenditures down to the school level. These four videos may help state education agencies better understand the equity implications of financial transparency as they define and tackle their own financial transparency goals.

Financial Transparency Reporting Requirement: Where to start

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In this brief we describe our work with 22 state education agencies to identify data readiness to meet the financial transparency reporting requirement under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and outline the inventory processes so other states can identify their own next steps to meet the requirement.

With New Data, School Finance Is Coming Out of the Dark Ages

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In this blog and podcast, Marguerite Roza explains how a sleeper provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will serve up a motherlode of new school-level financial data, offering an unprecedented opportunity to be better equipped to tackle some of education’s most pressing issues.

Productivity Improvements Paper Series

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These five Rapid Response briefs model the costs of productivity improvements in K-12 education, including changes in staffing ratios, the impact of late-career teacher pay raises on pension debt, and paying the best teachers more to teach more students.

The Equity Problem in Teacher Pensions

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This brief shows how high-minority schools receive fewer dollars in pension wealth than low-minority schools within the same district, and makes the case for pension dollars to be more transparent and included in discussions around K-12 spending equity.

New Era of School Finance

In 2016 we convened leading authorities to discuss the complexities of education finance in light of the new Every Student Succeeds Act. Watch Marguerite Roza’s research presentation, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s keynote, and an expert panel discussion of the shifting roles in education finance decisions.

Are public universities neglecting in-state students?

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Marguerite Roza responds to an online “Room for Debate” conversation hosted by the New York Times, arguing that chasing after nonresident students threatens the very nature of public universities as institutions that serve the state.

Advancing System Productivity Webinar Series

Edunomics Lab, in partnership with Council of Chief State School Officers and the Building State Capacity and Productivity Center, convened a Community of Practice to support a group of leaders in all states interested in developing a state-specific framework and strategy set related to the SEA’s role in increasing productivity. This series of five webinars is designed to help Regional Comprehensive Centers support state education agency (SEA) leaders as they explore how they can better support districts and schools to operate in a more productive way.

Meeting the ESSA Financial Transparency Reporting Requirement

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On February 9, 2017 nearly 100 state and district leaders representing 36 states met in Washington, D.C. to explore the opportunities and work ahead to meet the financial transparency reporting requirement in ESSA.  Available presentations are linked.

Promoting Productivity: Lessons from Rural Schools

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In this essay addresses the assumption that rural districts are less productive than their urban or suburban peers by discussing rural districts can “beat the odds” by increasing student results without increasing per-pupil expenditures.

Title I: Time to Get It Right

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In this brief on the landmark federal law’s 50th anniversary, we offer five key principles to help policymakers revise Title I so that it fulfills its promise of augmenting funding for poor students.

Student Based Allocation 101

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This one-page infographic explains what student-based allocation is, how it differs from traditional funding formulas and what its primary benefits are.

How Late-Career Raises Drive Teacher-Pension Debt

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In this paper we model the impacts of late-term raises on teacher pension obligations showing that on average each dollar raise triggers $10 to $16 in new taxpayer obligations and provide suggestions to mitigate such impacts while improving incentives for early and mid career teachers.

Can decentralization improve Seattle schools?

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In this op-ed, we argue that when the district decides what positions to fund in a school—rather than the school being empowered to decide based on its community priorities—it destroys goodwill and trust in the school system.

The Real Deal on K-12 Staffing

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This analysis finds that staffing ratios across K-12 education have risen precipitously over several decades and, despite the impact of the Great Recession, remain at 2004 levels. A state-by-state comparison reveals large disparities across states.

Building SEA Productivity

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In this presentation state education chiefs heard about a basic framework for leading the productivity challenge that includes building a productivity data infrastructure, prioritizing flexibility, aligning funds with students, incentivizing innovation, and leading the change.

Denver Public Schools: Making More Money Follow Students

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This two-page brief outlines how Denver Public Schools has steadily increased the amount of district funds funneled through the student based allocation formula the school system adopted in 2008. In fiscal 2014, the district allocated $3235 million, or approximately 38 percent, of its $865 million budget.

What Portion of District Funds Follow Students?

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Part of our ongoing study of budgets in systems implementing student based allocation, in this four-page brief we analyze 12 district budgets and find that the systems allocate roughly 24 to 42 percent of their funds through an SBA formula.

Boston Public Schools: Weighting What Matters

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In this three-page brief, we analyze the share of district dollars Boston Public Schools funneled through its student based allocation formula, adopted in 2012. In fiscal 2014, the district allocated $3235 million, or approximately 38 percent, of its $865 million budget through the formula.

A State Information System to Support Improvements in Productivity

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In this paper, we discuss how states can (and why they should) track and share school-level outcomes relative to school-level spending in their online information systems. Some schools are far more productive than others—getting better student results for less money—yet states are not yet routinely identifying such schools.

Webinar: Training Principals for Budgeting at the School Level

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In this webinar and presentation, we share seven key steps for principals to customize their use of resources based on student outcomes goals and needs. This includes concrete budget strategies and hands-on exercises to help principals understand and weigh cost and tradeoff scenarios.

How much money follows the student in WSF (aka SBA) districts?

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In this presentation at the annual Association for Education Finance and Policy conference, we share our findings that the percent of total funds allocated via student based allocation (%SBA) ranges from a low of 23 percent to a high of 45 percent among ten urban school districts studied.

Webinar: Building a State Information System to Support Improvements in Productivity

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On February 26, 2016 Marguerite Roza conducted a webinar for state education agency leaders. This webinar explored how SEAs can build an information system designed to drive productivity – what data are needed, how to compile the data into useful resources for leaders at every level of education and how these stakeholders can use the data to drive decision making and advance productivity.

Taking Off the Heat

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On January 29, 2014 Marguerite Roza shared risks and rewards that emerge when districts “decentralize” engagement around financial decisions to the school level with Portfolio School District Network members in Houston, TX.

VisionSBA: K-12 Financial Modeling Tool

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VisionSBA provides education leaders with a unique outlook on spending by school level within a district, delivering insight into relative spending across schools adjusted for each school’s actual mix of students. This interactive tool developed by Marguerite Roza and Jim Simpkins answers the question: “How much does each school spend relative to all other schools in this district taking into account its particular mix of students?”

The SEA of the Future: Prioritizing Productivity

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In this volume of The SEA of the Future, Marguerite Roza co-authored two essays examining how state leaders, challenged with having to make decisions on how to use limited resources, are faced with an uneasy zero-sum game: every dollar they put into one program is a dollar not spent in another.

The Case Against High School Sports

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In this article published by The Atlantic, author Amanda Ripley draws on Marguerite Roza’s research as she describes the role of high school sports in the American education system, how current resource allocations favor sports over academics, and consequences as American students fall behind in international rankings.

The High Price of Excess Credits

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This brief examines the cost of extra credits earned by students in California, Georgia, and New York, and opportunities for state and university leaders to maximize degree attainment with constrained resources.

More Students, More Degrees, More Dollars

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Cuts to state support for higher education have prompted some universities to raise tuition, admit more out-of-state students, and increase enrollment to close budget gaps. This analysis compares these three strategies in public flagship universities, first in terms of the relative magnitude needed to close a gap in state funds, and then in terms of the extent to which they contribute to degree production for students in their state.

Funding Phantom Students

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This brief describes a common practice that inhibits both efficiency and productivity: funding students who do not actually attend school in funded districts and how this is often overlooked by state leaders.

How Current Education Governance Distorts Financial Decisionmaking

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In this chapter, Roza assesses the strengths and weaknesses of what remains of the old in education governance, scrutinizes how traditional governance forms are changing, and suggests how governing arrangements might be further altered to produce better educational outcomes for children.

How Districts Shortchange Low-Income and Minority Students

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Dr. Roza’s analysis demonstrates that, despite district bookkeeping practices that make funding across schools within the same district appear relatively comparable, substantially less money is spent in high-poverty and high-minority schools.

Pennywise and Pound Foolish in Education

The authors suggest that weighed student funding would show exactly where the money is going and foster transparency and accountability for performance, thereby potentially closing the gaps in local public service quality between the privileged and the disadvantaged.


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