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California School Districts Divert State School Funds Away From High-Needs Students

Directing high-demand California students to other spending “weakens” the potential to significantly close the achievement gap between high-poor and low-poor students, says the California Institute for Public Policy. Research has discovered.

The school district is allocating just 55 cents per dollar of additional funding from the Local Control Funding Formula to schools attended by students in high demand to raise funds, researcher Julian La Fortune said in a policy brief and full report. I concluded.

Lafortune surveyed state-reported school-level financial data for all districts with more than 250 students and more than 10 schools. For the first time, he was able to conduct research using federally mandated school-level data available.

“Incomplete targeting of resources to highly-needed students in the district remains a concern,” he wrote, adding that there are significant differences between districts in the scope of targeting additional resources.

He said that money that didn’t reach high-needed students wasn’t necessarily wasted. Rather than being targeted, it was evenly distributed to all students throughout the district.

Funding formulas have a positive impact on improving test scores and college qualifications, especially in the most funded districts, according to a PPIC study.

The Local Control Funding Formula provides most of the general funding that school districts and charter schools receive from the state. We provide basic grants to all students, as well as grants to all students in need, and provide a surge in funding when configuring most students in the district. In the funding scheme, high-demand students are low-income foster parents, homeless students, and English learners who are eligible for additional funding.

As of this year, districts with at least 60% of enrollment in eligible students are about the same as the state-wide average of high-demand students and receive an additional 15% of funding. Districts where 80% of enrollment is eligible students will receive approximately one-third of the additional funding.

Lafortune raises test scores for Smarter Balanced’s standardized tests in the arts of mathematics and English, especially in areas with the most needed students, enabling them to meet course requirements for admission to California State University By doing so, the money is rewarded. And the University of California.

In areas with the highest needs (areas where more than 80% of students are eligible for additional funding), the percentage of students who meet or exceed the criteria is with English art while the needs are low. Increased by 10 percentage points and 9 percentage points in mathematics, respectively. In the district, the share increased by 4 points and 5 points from 2014-15 to 2018-19. Low-income districts narrowed the achievement gap by 6 percent points in English art and 4 percent points in mathematics.

However, overall state-wide progress in narrowing the gap between all low-income and non-low-income students was small, only 2.5 percent points in English art and 0.6 percent points in mathematics.

Lafortune found the same pattern when analyzing the course requirements known as A through G to qualify for admission to the University of California and California State University. In the decade before the funding scheme was enacted in 2013-14, there was no change in the A-to-G completion rate difference between low-income and non-low-income areas. Since then, the gap between the most-needed and least-needed districts has shrunk by 9 percent, less than 30 percent of low-income students. In the area in between receiving the deposit, the gap closed only 5 percentage points.

Previous studies of local management and accountability plans, where districts present annual plans for supplementary and intensive spending, show that some districts are underutilizing or misdirecting their money. I found.

A state auditor’s analysis of spending in the three districts concluded that the funding scheme “does not guarantee that funding will benefit students as intended.”

This year, Governor Gavin Christopher adopted one of the auditor’s key recommendations, eliminating loopholes where the district could spend the rest of the money for students in need the following year.

Tracking money was also difficult in schools with high-needed students. However, through requirements under the Federal All-Student Success Act, California is the first to report accurate spending data by school. Previously, California used district-wide averages to calculate teacher salaries, the largest component of school spending, rather than actual salaries.

The new mission is not a complete remedy, as it remains difficult to compare spending between districts. But it reveals which high-needs schools are funded differently.

Lafortune attributed the difference in spending to high-needed students to the two issues raised in the report.

  • The additional funding is intended to fund additional programs and services for high-demand students, but because it is funded by the district rather than the school, where the district spends money. It’s flexible.
  • The districts with the highest percentage of high-needed students (more than 80% of enrollments) receive the most concentrated funding, while in many other districts the total number of high-needed students is about the same, but the funding is It is considerably less. In addition, non-low-income districts that are not intensively funded include a quarter of state schools, with more than half of students low-income.

Samantha Tran, Senior Managing Director of Education Policy at Children Now, a non-profit organization, said: Organization.

Financing formulas seem to work in the districts that receive the most funding. “This is great, but there’s definitely a lot that the state has to do to actually fill the gap in achievement,” she said.

Lafortune recommends several options for more even distribution of additional funds. One way is to lower the threshold for the district to receive concentrated funds. The other is to raise centralized funding for each school rather than the district to ensure that the students who generate the additional funding are funded.

The challenge for the latter is that it can foster further racism-redrawing school boundaries to include greater concentration of low-income families, Lafortune said.

In a survey two years ago, La Fortune recorded that the district was spending additional money to hire low-income school counselors and teacher aides, but in disproportionate numbers to them. There was also a beginner teacher. He encourages Congress to tackle this issue again.

“Therefore, key policies need to include additional funding and incentives to enable the district to hire and retain qualified staff in the schools with the highest needs, especially given the shortage of teachers on high-demand subjects. There is, “he writes.

John Fensterwald is a reporter for EdSource, a publishing partner for Cal Matters.

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