State School Finance Profiles
2020-21 School Year (published January 2024)
These 51 one-page profiles evaluate the performance of the K-12 school finance systems of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. You can download your state’s profile using the drop-down menu to the left. You can also download the full set of 51 profiles.
The profiles use data from the School Finance Indicators Database (SFID), a collection of finance and resource allocation measures that are based on sophisticated and widely accepted methods, but are also designed to be easy for non-researchers to understand and use.
The SFID team improves and updates these profiles annually. Due to the lag in the collection and release of federal finance data, the latest year of data presented in the profiles is 2021 (the 2020-21 school year).
School funding, while enormously important, is also 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.
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.
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 its region, 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 should 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, though 2021 estimates will be published in early 2024). It is our hope that the profiles contribute to improving the quality and productivity of school finance debates and policymaking.
Authors: Matthew Di Carlo (Albert Shanker Institute); Alana Edmond (Albert Shanker Institute); Bruce D. Baker (University of Miami); Mark Weber (Rutgers University)
SIXTH EDITION OF OUR ANNUAL REPORT AND OTHER RESOURCES
Latest Annual Report
The Adequacy and Fairness of State School Finance Systems (sixth edition)
The sixth edition of our annual report presenting findings on effort, statewide adequacy, and equal opportunity in state school finance systems. Published January 2024.
Latest Research Briefs
State School Finance System Profiles (2020-21 school year)
One-page profiles summarizing the key results on effort, statewide adequacy, and equal opportunity for all 50 states and D.C. View your state’s profile. Published January 2024.