Recipe for High-Impact Research

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.

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

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.

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.

Focus On Student Outcomes, Not How Federal Funds Are Spent

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.

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.

Wise Spending of Your Federal Relief Funds

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.  

Teacher Dissatisfaction May Be High, But So Are Retention Rates

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.

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

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. 

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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: An Introduction to Student-Based Allocation

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.

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.

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.

Title I: Time to Get It Right


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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Case Against High School Sports

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.

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

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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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