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Cutting Through the Clutter of School Finance Data and Research

Thursday, Apr 25, 2019 | 11:45am

Over the past several years, a political and empirical consensus has started to emerge about the importance of equitable and adequate school funding for high-quality K-12 education. Although there remains plenty of disagreement as to how money should be spent, there is also growing agreement that virtually all potentially effective options require investment, particularly for disadvantaged students, and that we can’t decide the best way to spend money unless there is enough money to spend. 

This is a situation in which reliable, credible, and sophisticated data and analysis are essential. Yet the field of school finance is awash in complex data, esoteric formulas, and seemingly conflicting conclusions that can be frustrating for policymakers, parents, journalists, advocates, and the general public.

How can we cut through this clutter? How can school finance data and research be presented in an accessible and policy-relevant manner, while also preserving the necessary rigor and sophistication? Is there an opportunity here to start moving toward a consensus data collection, compiled and endorsed by scholars and organizations from across the ideological spectrum?

This panel addressed these important questions, partially in the context of a new school finance report and public dataset, published this month by researchers from the Shanker Institute and Rutgers Graduate School of Education. 

Confirmed speakers include:

Ary Amerikaner, Vice President for P-12 Policy, Practice, and Research, The Education Trust

Bruce Baker, Professor, Rutgers University Graduate School of Education

Matthew Chingos, Vice President, Education Data and Policy, Urban Institute

Chris Duncombe, Senior Policy Analyst, The Commonwealth Institute 

Jesse Levin, Principal Researcher, American Institutes for Research

Moderator: Matt Barnum, Education Policy Reporter, Chalkbeat