State School Finance Profiles
2019-20 School Year (published December 2022)
School funding is both enormously important and extremely complicated. Large amounts of finance data are collected every year by districts, states, and the federal government. These data are used by scholars and organizations to produce volumes of reports and papers, which vary widely in terms of empirical rigor, and sometimes reach conflicting conclusions. This can be frustrating for policymakers, parents, educators, advocates, and other stakeholders.
The primary purpose of the School Finance Indicators Database (SFID) is to cut through this clutter. It is a collection of finance and resource allocation measures that are based on sophisticated and widely accepted methods, but also designed to be easy for non-researchers to understand and use.
Each year, we publish a report summarizing key findings from the SFID. Although this report does present data from every state, it does not allow for the kind of convenient state-specific summary that many users desire. Moreover, while all of our state indicators data are available to the public, the fact remains that analyzing datasets, as well as compiling and contextualizing results from a variety of different measures, can be difficult and time-consuming. These 51 one-page state profiles pull together a selection of key measures into one place and provide a succinct summary of each state’s (and D.C.’s) public K-12 finance system. They are published every year as an accompaniment to the annual report.
To download an individual state profile, use the drop down menu above. Or download the full set of 51 profiles.
Characterizing complex state finance systems parsimoniously is a challenge. The State Indicators Database (SID), which is the primary product of the SFID, includes approximately 125 variables measuring revenue and spending at different levels (e.g., federal, state, local), resource allocation (e.g., staff ratios, teacher pay), and other topics. The indicators are statistically adjusted for factors, such as regional wage variation and poverty, to allow for better comparisons within and between states (many of the indicators are available over the past 25-30 years). Any attempt to include all or even most of these measures in a single profile would likely overwhelm many users. It is also unnecessary.
Instead, the profiles, like the annual report, focus on three “core” measures from the state database, which together offer an effective overview of the fairness and sufficiency of each state’s finance system:
- Effort: how much of a state’s total resources or capacity are spent directly on public K-12 education;
- Statewide adequacy: how many of states’ students are in districts with resources sufficient to meet common outcome goals;
- Equal opportunity: whether funding is more adequate for lower-poverty districts than for higher-poverty districts.
In the profiles, on both the front and back sides, we provide descriptions of each of these three measures, and we try to present the data clearly and in context. This includes, for example, comparisons of each state with the nation as a whole, and, where appropriate, trends over time. The profiles also include overall state scores.
On the back of each profile you can find more detailed information about the indicators and notes about how they are presented and might be interpreted. This back page also lists the names of SID variables used, should readers wish to download and analyze the data for themselves (note that some of the results in the profiles require use of the SFID’s District Cost Database, which is also freely available to download on the SFID website). It is our hope that the profiles contribute to improving the quality and productivity of school finance debates and policymaking.
Authors: Bruce D. Baker (Rutgers University); Matthew Di Carlo (Albert Shanker Institute); Kayla Reist (Albert Shanker Institute); Mark Weber (Rutgers University)
NEW RELEASE OF DISTRICT COST DATABASE AND DATAVIZ TOOL
April 2023: You can download the full DCD dataset with adequacy estimates for over 12,000 districts between 2009-2020 or look up individual districts with our data visualization tool.
Latest Annual Report
The Adequacy and Fairness of State School Finance Systems (fifth edition)
The fifth edition of our annual report presenting findings on effort, statewide adequacy, and equal opportunity in state school finance systems. Published December 2022.
Latest Research Briefs
The Source Code: Revenue Composition and the Adequacy, Equity, and Stability of K-12 School Spending
An analysis of the relationship between revenue composition and the adequacy, equity, and stability of K-12 funding. Published April 2023. Read the report.