How Each State Distributes Money for Public Schools and At-Risk Students
The Every Student Succeeds Act has brought a new focus to school funding and how it works, including a new federal requirement for states to report how much individual schools receive per pupil. But the number of approaches states take to support their schools, and whether they account for special student populations, still vary dramatically.
That's an easy takeaway from a new Education Commission of the States report on the K-12 funding models all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Published on Tuesday, the report looks at how each state handles the following aspects of K-12 aid.
- Funding mechanism
- Base amount
- Special education funding
- English-language learner funding
- At-risk funding for low-income students
- Gifted and talented funding
- Small size or isolated funding adjustment
Let's dive quickly into one element of states' K-12 aid models: their funding mechanism, which refers to the basic way states allocate money.
Most states use either a foundation formula or a resource allocation model for their funding mechanism. In a foundation formula, as ECS puts it, "districts receive a base amount of funding per student with additional money or weights added to meet the needs of high-need student populations." Meanwhile, in a resource allocation model, states "distribute resources rather than assigning weights or dollar values based on certain criteria," so that based on student enrollment figures, a pre-set number of teaching positions would get funded, for example.
Here's the share of states that use one or the other, some hybrid of the two, or a different system altogether:
How about the number of states that specifically address at-risk funding for students from low-income backgrounds in their models? All but eight states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, and South Dakota) do so in some way.
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