Visualization: fiscal effort

Select a state to display trends in fiscal effort for that state and the U.S. average between 2004 and 2018. Fiscal effort measures states’ direct K-12 education spending as a percentage of their total economic capacity, or the size of their “economic pies.” The two graphs represent spending as a percentage of two different measures of states’ economic capacity (both effort measures are highly correlated). The top graph is total state spending as a percentage of Gross State Product (GSP). The bottom graph is spending as a percentage of aggregate state personal income. The U.S. average in both graphs is unweighted.

Note that fiscal effort is not calculated for the District of Columbia in any year, and for Vermont in 2018 due to irregularities in that state’s data. However, the U.S. averages in the graphs below do include Vermont between 2004 and 2017.

For more information on these measures, see our State Indicators Database user’s guide and our annual report. You can also download the full dataset. To convert the visualization to a PDF or graphic, use the download button at the bottom.

Visualization by Lauren Schneider

Latest News


March 2021: New database of spending adequacy in over 12,000 districts. Read the accompanying research brief, view profiles of individual districts, or download the full dataset.

Latest Annual Report

The Adequacy and Fairness of State School Finance Systems

The third edition of our annual report presenting findings on effort, adequacy, and progressivity in state school finance systems. Published January 2021. Read the report.

Latest Research Briefs

BRIEF: The Adequacy of School District Spending in the U.S.

Key findings on the adequacy of school district spending from our new District Cost Database for the 2017-18 school year. Published March 2021. Read the report.