Financial Transparency2020-05-01T00:50:56+00:00

Financial Transparency

Making per-pupil expenditures down to the school level public

Thanks to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states now must annually report for every public school and local educational agency the total per-pupil spending of federal, state and local money disaggregated by source of funds for the preceding fiscal year. This includes actual (not average) spending on personnel.

Girl with shocked face

Why is this such a big deal?

For years, public reporting centered on district and state per-pupil averages, which can mask big school-by-school spending differences. Now, education leaders, policymakers and the public will know what is spent on students in every school across the country: This is a game changer. Making school-level financial data publicly accessible will make it much easier to investigate the relationship between school outcomes—something states have reported for years—and school spending. This can help drive improvements in educational productivity and equity.

What are the opportunities?

States now have the chance to build user-friendly data systems that let school and district leaders easily tap the information they need to leverage their dollars to do the most for students. But accounting for and reporting spending by school will be a big challenge for many. To help states and districts navigate this new work, Edunomics Lab hosts the Financial Transparency Working Group, known as FiTWiG.

Explore our School Spending Data Hub

Our data hub provides a gateway to explore each state’s school-by-school spending data. Find out what you can learn from that state’s report card about per-pupil expenditures—and how to find information the report card may not provide.

Interstate Financial Reporting: IFR

Created by states, for states to meet the financial data reporting requirement under ESSA—and maximize the value of their efforts. IFR represents FiTWiG’s collective thinking on a set of key per-pupil expenditure measures that, if used, have common meaning across states. Following these voluntary, minimal IFR criteria can help states and districts ensure that their school-level data is understood and can be used to surface opportunities toward equity, productivity and innovation to benefit students.

Financial Transparency Working Group: FiTWiG

Nearly all but a handful of the country’s state education agencies and 20-plus local school districts jointly develop strategies to meet the federal requirement and build information systems to meet their own transparency goals and improve education outcomes.

This work has been possible through several key partnerships including Council of Chief State School Officers, State Support Network and Building State Capacity and Productivity Center. Meeting materials and related products are linked below by topic area.

To learn more about this working group contact Liz Ross via email at elizabeth.ross@georgetown.edu.

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