Transformative, Evidence-Based Ideas

Facing the Future: Financing Productive Schools

This report is the conclusion of an extensive six-year national study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The authors criticize school finance systems for being outmoded and not linked to student results and offer a four-part action plan for overhauling today’s school finance systems:

  • Drive funds to schools based on student counts: The money would be given to principals to allocate and manage within their individual schools. A weighting formula could be used to provide extra funds for disadvantaged students.
  • Concentrate federal funds on low-income students: Direct money on the basis of student characteristics right down to the individual student’s school.
  • Redesign states’ school finance systems for continuous improvement: Demand innovation and continuous improvement, keeping what works and discarding what does not.
  • Base accountability on performance: Make superintendents and the chief of state schools responsible for judging school performance and finding better options for children whose schools do not teach them effectively.
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