United States Education Dashboard The Department of Education Seal
Goal: Ensure effective educational opportunities for all students regardless of race, national origin, sex, disability, and socioeconomic status.
Objective: To ensure that states and local governments provide equitable levels of funding to all of their school districts to enable them to meet the educational needs of all of their students.
How progress is measured: The difference in funding between the highest- and lowest-poverty districts in current per pupil expenditures from state and local funds (actual and weighted)
Why is this measure important? School districts in states that do not distribute funding equitably may not have sufficient resources to provide a high-quality education to their students. We therefore compare the level of state and local funding per-pupil in high-poverty districts and low-poverty districts within each state. Based on an assumption that additional per-pupil funding is appropriate to meet the additional needs of high-poverty students, the Dashboard indicator allows users to weight poor students when calculating per-pupil expenditures. The default weight is 40 percent (taken from the Department's Title I formula). Users may select alternative weights, including no additional weight, if they prefer.
What do the data tell us at the national level? This indicator has not been calculated at the national level. Due to differences in the cost of providing educational services across states, per-pupil expenditures cannot be considered comparable.
What are the limitations of the indicator? There is no consensus on the amount of additional funding needed to meet the needs of disadvantaged students. By default, the Dashboard indicator weights poor students by a factor of 40 percent (based on a factor in the Department’s Title I formula and commonly used in other research on school finance) when calculating per-pupil expenditures. Users may select alternative weights, including no additional weight, if they prefer. The cost of educating students will also vary based on location (urban, suburban, or rural) and other student factors (e.g., students with disabilities and English language learners). Weighting for these factors are not included in this version of the Dashboard. This indicator is the Department’s first attempt to provide a fiscal indicator. As this is the Department’s first attempt to provide this indicator, feedback is greatly appreciated. There was an attempt to combine a relatively simple methodology with the clearest display possible. Feedback on making this indicator more accessible and less complicated would be greatly appreciated. Please email us at dashboard@ed.gov with any suggestions.

For additional information on these data, visit http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/ or http://www.census.gov/did/www/saipe/.

Documentation for the indicator: Current expenditures were used in order to exclude expenditures for capital outlay, which tend to have substantial changes from year to year. The current expenditures are for public elementary and secondary education only, and exclude expenditures for adult education, community services, and other programs that are not allocable to expenditures per student in public schools. Current expenditures have been adjusted by subtracting all federal education revenues other than impact aid, since Impact Aid is intended as a substitute for foregone local or state revenue. The federal revenues other than Impact Aid were subtracted from current expenditures to examine the distribution of funds provided through state and local education finance systems. High- and low-poverty districts represent the top and bottom quartiles, respectively. Quartiles were calculated based on ranking regular local education agencies by the poverty rate, calculated as the percentage of children ages 5–17 in families living below the poverty level. Each quartile contains approximately the same number of children. To calculate the weighted value, the number of number of children 5-17 year olds in poverty in each district, as determined by the Census Bureau Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) was multiplied by the weighting factor (e.g. 40%) and added to the total enrollment of the district. The current expenditures for the district were then divided by the weighted enrollment.

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, Policy and Program Studies Service, unpublished tabulations based on U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, "Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates," 1997–98 and 2007–08; and U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Common Core of Data (CCD), "Local Education Agency Universe Survey," 1997–98 and 2007–08.
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