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7 Enabling "Adequacy" to Achieve Reality: Translating Adequacy into State School Finance Distribution Arrangements James W. Guthrie Richard Rothstein Introduction This chapter addresses the financial consequences of an evolving concept—that of an "adequate" education. A growing number of state court decisions suggest that "adequacy" is challenging "equity" as the standard to which state school revenue distribution plans should be held (see Minorini and Sugarman, Chapter 6 in this volume). Parallel school finance developments in states without such court mandates suggest that a commitment to provide an "adequate" education to all students is part of a broader national political consensus. However, consensus about this goal may be outpacing our understanding of how to define and achieve it. Equity itself is more complex than it first appears, because nominal equity takes account neither of differences in student need nor of geographic differences in costs. The concept of adequacy adds an additional complexity, requiring us to link cost calculations to decisions about minimally appropriate resource input levels and schooling outcomes. While defining equity is essentially a technical enterprise, moving to adequacy requires policy and value judgments about which achieving consensus, ultimately, may be more difficult. Following a brief history of the evolution of adequacy as a school finance concept, this chapter has five principal parts: First, we examine definitional challenges associated with translating an abstract term, "adequate," into a practical school finance distribution formula, and survey three distinct approaches to the problem—statistical, empirical, and
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judgmental. Each of these methods has a different strategy for anchoring the concept of "adequacy" in some sense of educational accomplishment, some goal to be achieved. This approach establishes baselines such that "inadequate" can be identified. Second, this chapter concentrates on one of the alternative strategies (the professional judgment method) and describes means for assembling instructional components capable of delivering whatever outcomes—educational content or pupil performance levels—are deemed "adequate." Here, we also discuss how policy decisions must be made about whether, and to what extent, school districts receiving a dollar value of resources deemed capable of producing adequate outcomes should be required by law or policy actually to utilize those dollars in ways research determines are most effective for achieving those outcomes. Third, we discuss how to assign dollar values to such instructional components. Fourth, we illustrate how, as in the search for equity alone, a determination of the cost of an adequate education for typical students can then be adjusted, to ensure financial "adequacy" for all pupils, by taking account of varied pupil characteristics, school scale and district characteristics, and differences in educational costs in different geographic regions of a state. Finally, we briefly note some additional questions which remain unresolved in the calculation of adequacy. Chief among these is the additional policy debate regarding test and measurement means for appraising pupil progress toward whatever is legislatively specified as adequate academic performance (Carlson, 1996). The authors recently participated in a commission from the state of Wyoming to respond to these challenges. We are currently engaged in refining our approach in other states as well. In what follows, we utilize these experiences to illustrate our themes. We discuss only problems related to how to spend adequate funds for education; this chapter does not discuss how to raise these funds, i.e., revenue sources and related taxation matters. It does not concern itself with physical facilities and other large capital outlay considerations. It only lightly touches on the role of federal government regulations or revenues in contributing to state efforts to achieve adequacy. Likewise, it barely references the non-finance components of a comprehensive education policy system, such as testing and accountability provisions or teacher training and staff development requirements, which might necessarily have to be joined with a revenue distribution plan to ensure what Clune refers to as "true adequacy" (Clune, 1994).
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Historical Context In response to court decisions, several states, e.g., Alabama, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Vermont, and Wyoming, are presently attempting to construct practical definitions of an "adequate" education. These efforts take place against an historic backdrop. Table 7-1 utilizes a categorization of states-by-litigation status developed by Alan Hickrod, and then calculates real changes in education spending for each state from 1970 to 1995. School spending has been increasing in virtually every state, and we make no claim here that it is a concern for "adequacy" alone which is propelling the change. Our contention is more simple. A national pattern of growing elementary and secondary expenditures in states with or without a history of "equity" and/or "adequacy" litigation is apparent. With the exception of California, all states have increased average per-pupil spending in the last quarter century, and most have increased it dramatically. In some states without litigation, spending has increased to avoid litigation. In other states where courts have upheld previous financing schemes, spending has still increased at rates similar to those where litigation had an opposite result. Thus, we contend that the national "adequacy" debate can be seen, in part, as an effort to evaluate whether this spending growth has been sufficient and to ensure that the new money is distributed within states in a fashion that will produce desired outcomes. Historic "Adequacy": Politically Determined Inputs Despite recent interest, "adequacy" is not a new concept in school finance. Charles Benson explained it as early as 1978 (Benson, 1978). Kirst and Garms explored the term in a chapter on the evolving context of education reform in the initial American Education Finance Association yearbook published two decades ago (Kirst and Garms, 1980). But although the term "adequacy" has been used for 20 years, the concept has had a practical school finance meaning for much longer because many states have politically determined "adequate" levels of inputs to support the schooling process. The "foundation" distribution formula approach has existed since the beginning of the twentieth century, with elucidations by early school finance scholars such as Cubberley (1919a, 1919b), Mort et al. (1960), and Johns et al. (1983). Their "foundation plans" had "adequate'' as an assumed condition. The "foundation" was, and in most states still is, a per-pupil dollar floor below which a state does not permit a district's spending to fall. When the "foundation" finance distribution concept was originally adopted by states, and as it continues in most states today, governors and legislatures define "adequate" by determining how much state revenue is available, or how much additionally they are willing to generate through added taxation. This aggregate revenue amount has then been embedded in a minimum "foundation"
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TABLE 7-1 Increased State Spending on Elementary and Secondary Educationa Stateb Year of Final Decision in First Court Case Nominal Spending Growth 1970-95 (in percent) Real Spending Growthc 1970-95 (in percent) States Where Court Decisions Required School Finance Reformd West Virginia 1979 837 105 Arkansas 1983 802 97 Connecticut 1977 827 94 Kentucky 1989 787 94 New Jersey 1973 795 87 Texas 1989 691 73 Ohio 1979 658 66 Tennessee 1993 632 60 Marylande 1997 625 58 New Hampshire 1997 652 58 Wyoming 1980 631 53 Massachusetts 1993 620 51 Vermont 1997 619 51 Washington 1978 576 42 Arizona 1994 543 35 Montana 1989 469 19 California 1971 384 1 States Where Court Decisions Upheld Existing School Finance System and Required No Reformf Georgia 1981 782 93 North Carolina 1987 739 83 Alaska 1997 766 81 Nebraska 1993 726 81 Maine 1992 751 78 Michigan 1973 707 77 South Carolina 1988 692 73 Rhode Island 1992 687 65 Virginia 1994 658 65 Pennsylvania 1979 666 60 Wisconsin 1989 629 60 New York 1992 604 47 Colorado 1982 594 45 Idaho 1975 593 45 Minnesota 1993 557 44 Oregon 1979 567 40 North Dakota 1993 492 30 Illinois 1996 461 23
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Stateb Nominal Spending Growth 1970-95 (in percent) Real Spending Growthc 1970-95 (in percent) States Where Litigation Is Pending Alabama 761 88 Florida 654 65 South Dakota 610 56 New Mexico 608 48 Louisiana 571 47 Missouri 548 42 States Without School Finance Litigationg Indiana 788 95 Kansas 651 64 Mississippi 652 64 Oklahoma 591 51 Nevada 549 36 Hawaii 540 34 Delaware 486 28 Iowa 455 22 Utah 459 17 a State and local spending only; federal funds not included. b States listed by spending growth. c Real spending growth calculated by using regional services of the Consumer Price Index, adjusted by the CPI-U for 1970-78. (There is considerable scholarly controversy regarding the most appropriate deflator to use in the historical analysis of school spending. It is not appropriate to engage that debate here, but for purposes of this analysis, some deflator must be utilized. Our reasons for preferring a services deflator are discussed briefly under "Adjusting Adequate for Pupil, School, and Regional Characteristics" and are described in greater detail in the references cited in that section. However, regardless of which deflator is utilized, the point made by this table, that spending growth experience has been similar in states categorized differently by litigation status, would be unaffected. If this table had been adjusted utilizing the more conventional consumer price index, real spending growth would appear to be greater, but the diversity of states' growth, and the similarity of experiences within litigation status groups, would be similar.) d In some of these states, a reformed school finance system was also challenged in a subsequent court case. e While plaintiffs lost a court case, the state eventually signed a consent decree, agreeing to reform its system. f In some of these states, new cases have been filed; in some, plaintiffs have lost a second time, while other cases are pending. g Includes states where litigation was withdrawn or is dormant. SOURCE: For litigation status, Hickrod et al. (1997), updated by author; for Nominal Spending Growth, authors' calculations from the National Center for Education Statistics (1997); for Services Index, 1978-95, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS; 1997); 1970-78, authors' estimates based on regional changes in CPI-U from BLS (1997). Table reproduced from Rothstein (1998).
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distribution formula. Whatever this per-pupil minimum spending amount, it has then been presumed to be adequate. As Minorini and Sugarman (see Chapter 6, page 190, in this volume) note, "almost nowhere could it plausibly be shown that the actual minimum foundation plan level … had been determined as a result of a genuine statewide appraisal [of what is actually necessary to fund an 'adequate' education]." Some states, however, have relied on alternative definitions of adequate inputs, such as teacher certification requirements, state textbook selection, and class size or pupil-teacher maxima. The "foundation" has been intended to ensure that there is no systematic underinvestment in schooling within a state. Foundation-related, per-pupil revenue levels have been questioned politically and legally for three decades, since Coons et al. and Wise formulated legal challenges based on the United States Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment equal protection clause (Coons et al., 1970; Wise, 1968). However, it was initially a foundation program's statewide per-pupil revenue distributional equity which came under scrutiny, not the adequacy of that spending level. The legal assaults of the last three decades were mostly intended to ensure that state-authorized spending levels, be they adequate or inadequate, were at least equally accessible to local school districts. But recently, the focus has broadened. Modern Adequacy: Technically Defined and Outcome Oriented The evolving concept of "adequacy" suggests that something beyond equity is at issue. The "something else" is a notion of sufficiency, a per-pupil resource amount sufficient to achieve some performance objective. Thus, adequacy is increasingly being defined by the outcomes produced by school inputs, not by the inputs alone. Clune contends that as the nation increasingly debates means for obtaining higher levels of student academic performance, the policy debate is beginning to shift away from "equity" and toward means for ensuring that students receive resources enabling them to learn to higher standards. Thus, adequacy deliberations sometimes are bundled with quests for ''opportunity standards" (Porter, 1993). "Delivery standards" is another related idea asserting that pupils and schools cannot fairly be held accountable for performance unless there is first an assurance that the levels of available resources are adequate and that students are appropriately exposed to the knowledge they are expected to master. Definitional Challenges: Identifying Anchors For "Adequate" If adequate is to have a meaning beyond what is assigned to it via a set of political decisions about revenue availability, then a judgment has to be made about expected ends to be achieved, some level of accomplishment or performance. Adequate to do what? Adequate how? Adequate for what purpose? Responding to these queries necessitates at least a twofold policy judgment
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about (1) learning or performance levels to be attained and (2) resource levels likely to permit schools to accomplish these learning purposes with students. This section is concerned principally with the first of these policy objectives, determining what students should know and be able to do. Only by specifying such an objective can calculations be undertaken to facilitate the second objective, specifying that the resource level involved is sufficient. Specifying learning is difficult, more difficult than it first appears. While we have an apparent national consensus that student outcomes are currently inadequate, this consensus extends only to the vaguest of generalities when it comes to specifying the extent to which this is the case. Consider one of the early attempts by a state court to define adequate outcomes, that of the West Virginia Supreme Court in Pauley v. Kelly in 1979. The Court required the legislature to fund a school system that would develop "in every child" these capacities; see Box 7-1. Other state courts and legislatures have required funding adequate to develop similar collections of competencies; in at least one case (Kentucky, in Rose v. Council for Better Education, 1989) an additional, relative, capacity was added: "sufficient levels of academic or vocational skills to enable public school students to compete favorably with their counterparts in surrounding states." The Wyoming Supreme Court (in Campbell County v. The State of Wyoming , 1995) required resources sufficient to provide each student with a "proper education," and the legislature subsequently defined a basket of education goods BOX 7-1 West Virginia Supreme Court Definition of an Adequate Education (1) literacy; (2) ability to add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers; (3) knowledge of government to the extent that the child will be equipped as a citizen to make informed choices among persons and issues that affect his own governance; (4) self-knowledge and knowledge of his or her total environment to allow the child to intelligently choose life work—to know his or her options; (5) work-training and advanced academic training as he child may intelligently choose; (6) recreational pursuits; (7) interests in all creative arts, such as music, theater, literature, and the visual arts; (8) social ethics, both behavioral and abstract, to facilitate compatibility with others in this society. SOURCE: Pauley v. Kelly, 255 S.E. 2nd 859 (W.V., 1979).
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and services that comprise such a proper (in our terms, "adequate") education. The basket consisted of some 30 courses and kinds of knowledge, designed to achieve a group of broader outcomes similar to those specified in West Virginia, Kentucky, and other states. The legislature deliberated upon these outcomes in great detail. For example, one Wyoming goal in the basket of expected outcomes and courses specified that every child should learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation. This objective was subsequently altered in favor of learning to balance a checkbook and manage a retirement portfolio. Boxes 7-2 and 7-3 display the Wyoming "Basket of Education Goods and Services." Even a cursory glance at these "baskets" suggests that few of these outcomes can be, or are, measured by the standardized reading and math tests that most uninformed discussions of school finance assume can measure adequacy. Whether, for example, the same resources that produce mathematical competency also, without augmentation, produce adequate performance in the fine and performing arts, is a question which analyses of finance adequacy cannot ignore, but which has yet barely been addressed by education finance theorists. Despite the difficulties, however, the adequacy litigation and legislation in Wyoming suggest a range of achievement levels and exposure to knowledge and skills that can serve as ends toward which to orient a practical school finance distribution system. Any of these outputs or ends can serve as an anchor around which to design particular components of an overall instructional system. Once an acceptable instructional system is in place, it should then, in principle, be possible to assign costs to the components. Designing an Instructional Delivery System Designing a state school finance system, even one oriented toward "adequacy," inevitably creates a tension between the dictates of a "system" design and the characteristics of individual students. State policymakers cannot easily prescribe the nature of instruction and the levels of resources for each of a state's literally thousands or millions of individual students. Hence, the necessity of designing a "system." Such a system should attempt to provide local school districts, local schools, and even classroom teachers with resources and inducements to tailor instruction to the characteristics of students. Ultimately, though, state-level policymakers must design a school finance system; they cannot now design a resource allocation program for each individual student. Because current policy tools are often clumsy, the needs of school finance systems on occasion may appear insensitive to the needs of individual students. Tailoring school finance to individual student characteristics is a research frontier where far more knowledge is needed. Given the above-mentioned complexity, policy analysts and researchers have been pioneering three approaches to calculate the costs of adequacy: (1) inference from outcomes by statistical analysis, (2) inference from outcomes by empirical
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BOX 7-2 The Wyoming Basket, 1990-1997 Regulations adopted by the State Board of Education in 1990 required that: Section 7. Common Core of Knowledge. All public school students shall meet the student performance standards at the level set by the school and district in the following areas of knowledge: (a) Language Arts; (b) Social Studies; (c) Mathematics; (d) Science; (e) Fine Arts and Performing Arts; (f) Physical Education; (g) Health and Safety; (h) Humanities; (i) Career Options; (j) Foreign Cultures Including Languages; (k) Applied Technology Section 8. Common Core of Skills. All public school students shall meet student performance standards at the level set by school and district in the following skills: (a) Problem Solving; (b) Interpersonal Communications; (c) Keyboarding and Computer Applications; (d) Critical Thinking; (e) Creativity; (f) Life Skills, including Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training. Section 11. At-Risk Students. The district shall have policies and procedures for every school in the district to identify and intervene with at-risk students. In addition, all schools shall provide instruction as appropriate through the school curriculum directed at the prevention of at-risk behavior. Section 12. [High School] Graduation Requirements. (a) A student shall master the student performance standards within the common core of knowledge and skills at the levels set by the district and the schools, including alternative schools. Section 13. Services. All districts shall provide the following support services for all students: (a) Health Services; (b) Media Services; (c) Guidance Services SOURCE: Catchpole (1996).
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BOX 7-3 The Wyoming Legislative Enacted 1997 Basket In 1997 the Wyoming Legis ature adopted these requirements into law and made the following modifications: Common Core of Knowledge. Changed "Language Arts" to "Reading/language arts" and required that reading writing and mathematics be emphasized in grades 1 through 8. Changed "Career Options" to ''Career/vocational education." Added "Government and Civics (including state and federal constitutions)" Common Core of Skills. Changed "Life Skills, including Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Training" to "Life skills, including personal financial management skills." Added [High School] Graduation Requirements. Four school years of English Three school years of Mathematics Three school years of Science Three school years of Social Studies (including history, American government and economic systems and institutions) Mastery of the common core of knowledge and skills SOURCE: Catchpole (1996). observation, and (3) professional judgment. The first and second of these approaches usually depend upon states having sophisticated student achievement testing systems which provide standardized statewide measures of student performance, with data linking this performance to student background characteristics.1 In states where such testing systems do not exist, then the third approach, professional judgment, seems to be the only alternative, where "getting to adequate" necessitates building an instructional resource model to which costs can subsequently be assigned. As we note below, however, we regard the professional judgment method as preferable in many respects, even where testing systems do exist. Each of these three alternatives results in an estimate of the cost of an adequate education for a presumed or hypothetical typical student. Having made this calculation, each alternative must then adjust this cost (or perhaps redefine the goal of adequate outcomes) for students in different socioeconomic circumstances and locations. With these results—estimates of the cost of an adequate education for each category and location of students in a state—policymakers must then determine whether and how districts may be required to spend the
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funds in an efficient manner likely to produce the desired adequate outcomes. Here, again, is the tension between the design of a "system" and the possible different characteristics of individual students. Inference from Outcomes by Statistical Analysis Statistical analysis is one way to relate observed student outcomes to resources, in hopes that adequate resource costs can then be inferred. This method, in effect, conflates into a single step the challenges of inferring adequate resource levels and pricing those levels. Rather than identifying specific instructional components deemed necessary to achieve adequate outcomes, and then pricing these components, this statistical method infers total value of the components by associating total school district spending with adequate outcomes. In this "black box," or raw correlational approach, the policy system, after determining an acceptable level of pupil performance or proficiency, then determines a delivery system dollar amount associated with it. This strategy bypasses any effort to construct or deduce a desired instructional delivery system. Such a bypass also obviates the need to determine costs of instructional components. Under this correlational approach, the "cost" of attaining "adequacy'' is whatever agencies that achieve adequate outcomes happen to spend, after accounting for any identifiable inefficiencies in these agencies' operations. While the statistical methods are complex, the principle behind them is relatively simple. With a sufficiently large database, each factor contributing to school costs can be examined and its unique relationship to another factor determined, distinct from the influence of other factors. For example, we may want to know how much more it "costs" to hire a teacher in an urban community than in a nonurban one. If we have sufficient data on teacher salaries and community characteristics, we can separate the common relationship between salary and urbanicity in all communities from the factors that may vary from community to community—like teachers' experience or training, community climate, community housing costs, etc. The result is the statistical generation of an abstract urban community where teacher salaries are uninfluenced by variations in these other costs, or by the choices districts may make in the type of teacher they hire. If adopted as a basis for policy, this correlational strategy would derive a unit cost (per classroom or per pupil) amount found to be associated with adequate levels of pupil academic achievement and recommend allocation of such resource levels to school districts or other operational agencies. This approach could include statistical controls for social and economic characteristics of students. How available revenues were translated into an instructional delivery system would be of no policy consequence in such a "black box" approach. Presumably, districts or schools would be free to undertake whatever operational translation they desired, knowing that assigned per-pupil revenue amounts had been found sufficient to elevate their mix of pupils to the specified level of performance.
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enrollment growth than the state as whole in recent years, the Teton district had a smaller percentage of junior teachers than the statewide average. Guthrie et al. have no firm explanation for these phenomena, but the possibility remains that the amenities of this community are so strong that they overcome the high costs of housing. Because prices generally are higher in Teton, even with rental housing removed from the WCLI, Teton will receive a geographic cost adjustment from the Guthrie et al. model that will entitle the district to about 20 percent more revenue than the typical Wyoming district will receive (compared to 34.4 percent more if calculated with rental prices included in the index). The Guthrie team remains concerned that this 20 percent bonus will further enhance Teton's ability to attract and retain teachers, and that the imprecision of this method of calculating geographic cost adjustments will have the perverse result of increasing the inequality of real resources available to Wyoming districts. This, however, is the opposite of the concern most frequently expressed by Wyoming policymakers who instinctively feel that Teton teachers should be fully compensated for higher prices in their community. The Guthrie et al. recommendation, however, was adopted by the legislature. Four other states (Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and Texas) presently distribute revenues to school districts after adjusting these revenues for estimated differences in geographic costs. Each utilizes a different method for calculating the adjustment, based on the state's geographic characteristics and data availability (Rothstein and Smith, 1997). However, nowhere, to our knowledge, has a state undertaken a systematic study of teacher quality to determine whether a geographic cost adjustment succeeds in equalizing resources available to students. This is a high priority for future research. Adjustment For Inflation Guthrie et al.'s calculation of prototypical model costs in Wyoming was based on data in the year prior to the model's implementation. For the model's recommendations to reflect the actual costs of adequacy in future appropriations for K-12 education, the legislature must adjust each of the inputs in the model for inflation. The WCLI could be used for this purpose as well, but Guthrie et al. recommended against this use, for two reasons. First, since William Baumol first explained the concept of the "cost disease" in labor intensive services, it has been widely accepted that school input inflation proceeds at a different rate from consumer price inflation (Baumol, 1967; Baumol et al., 1991; Rothstein and Miles, 1995). While it may not be the case in every year, school inflation will generally be more rapid than consumer price inflation, because manufactured products benefiting from technological improvements have greater relative importance in consumer purchases than in school purchases. On the other hand, a high proportion of school purchases are for professional labor, where opportunities
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for technological improvement are relatively limited (although not nonexistent, as attested by the use of aides for the less professional portions of teacher workloads during the last 20 years). Secondly, the WCLI would be unsuitable even if consumer price inflation were applicable to schools. This is because the WCLI, administered by a small Wyoming administrative department, is relatively unsophisticated in its price gathering. This is inevitable, given the budget and professional resources available to the state. Any consumer price survey requires numerous decisions about quality change and substitutability that are subject to error. In the case of a geographic cost adjustment, the WCLI provided the only available data, and so its use was recommended for this purpose. However, more sophisticated alternatives are available for estimating inflation. Guthrie et al. recommended that inflation in the professional compensation component of the prototypical model be estimated by using the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Cost Index (ECI) components for professional/technical and managerial labor; that inflation in nonprofessional compensation be estimated by using the balance of the ECI; and that inflation in the nonpersonnel items be estimated by using a regional consumer price index produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As an alternative method of estimating non-personnel inflation, Guthrie et al. recommended that Wyoming explore the possibility of contracting with Research Associates of Washington to produce a nonpersonnel school input index tailored to the particular needs of the Wyoming model. Research Associates (Kent Halstead, principal) annually publishes a school price index comprised of separate indices for each input weighted by that input's relative importance in a 1975 base year (Research Associates of Washington, 1997). Guthrie et al. recommended not using this index for anything other than the limited purpose described (purchases of nonpersonnel goods and services) because of the dangers implicit in estimating actual inflation in the price of a service (i.e., teachers) when the prices are based on actual payments in a non-competitive market. One reasonably can speculate regarding the extent to which Wyoming, as a state, represents anything but Wyoming. The state is among the nation's least populous. It has only 100,000 school children, a population which is stable to slightly declining. It has only 48 school districts. It has an unusual proportion of school children in remote and sparsely populated areas. We could go on and describe more unique characteristics of Wyoming. However, we make no case that Wyoming or, for that matter, any state, is representative of the nation as a whole. In fact, even among heavily populated, mixed economy states such as California, Illinois, or Texas, the intense developmental and political history of school finance renders each a policy-unique situation. Rather, our point is that the features of the school finance system designed for Wyoming anticipate most of the characteristics and conditions that analysts and researchers will face in other states. Wyoming had to develop a "basket of expected educational outcomes,"
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a prototypical delivery system had to be designed, the characteristics of district and pupil variation had to be taken into account, and cost adjustments of all kinds had to be undertaken. In other state situations, solutions may be different depending upon state characteristics. These solutions will almost inevitably be more complex in more diversified states. We contend, nevertheless, that the dimensions on which solutions are sought are likely to be similar to the dimensions pursued in Wyoming. Unsolved Mysteries Attempting to define an "adequate' education and thereafter to translate such a definition into the reality of school finance has begun. No doubt, the beginning efforts described in the above sections of this chapter will appear unusually crude to twenty-first century education and finance experts who plow this ground. However, a contemporary decisionmaker, be it a judge or elected official, should understand fully that this translation is still a primitive endeavor, still far more of an art than a science. We do not yet have full consensus on the objectives of the education system, and in the unlikely event we ever do, we do not know how to measure our progress toward those objectives with complete precision. Further yet, we are unsure of a foolproof technology that will enable a school to instruct in a manner which will result in a guarantee of desired student performance. Finally, we are woefully short of the data regarding spending which will enable us accurately to assign costs to whatever instructional models emerge as sensible. While most Americans agree that public schools should provide students with knowledge and skills, our understanding of educational technology is undeveloped when it comes to linking necessary resource inputs to desired outcomes. Consider these issues, touched on very briefly in previous pages, to which we presently have few satisfying answers: Defining adequacy must entail specifying resource levels minimally necessary to produce desired outcomes, not a level that wastes resources unneeded for this production. Yet even if we could determine resource levels that generally produce adequate outcomes, this level may be too generous if the resources are utilized inefficiently. For example, recent results from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) reveal that American 4th graders perform, on average, at least as well, if not better than 4th graders in most comparable nations. The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) confirmed in 1991 that American 9-year-olds read better than 9-year-olds almost anywhere in the world. But, according to the TIMSS, American 8th and 12th graders perform increasingly worse than their counterparts in math, and the IEA shows that American 17-year-olds' reading is also not up to par. Is this condition because, on average, we provide adequate resources to teach math and reading to 4th graders, but the resources for later grades are
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inadequate? Or is it because, with adequate resources, our pedagogies and curricular designs for 4th graders are superior to those for older children? Or is it neither of these, and simply a case of the TIMSS being flawed, for example, being better aligned with the outcomes we seek in the 4th grade than the outcomes we seek for older children? Do we assume, in funding an adequate education, that the level of resources necessary to produce adequate outcomes in reading are the same as those necessary to produce adequate outcomes in math? Are they the same as those necessary to produce an adequate quality of ''social ethics to facilitate compatibility with others in this society"? To what extent should schools be held responsible for the specified outcomes, as opposed to other institutions? Educational policymakers have become aware of the need for more school resources to produce acceptable outcomes for children from economically disadvantaged families, but this awareness is still unsophisticated. Almost entirely unexplored are the relationships between school outcomes and the economic institutions that provide school graduates with economic opportunity. These relationships cannot be ignored if courts wish to require schools to enable graduates "to compete favorably with their counterparts in surrounding states." The competitiveness of a state's high school graduates is affected not only by these graduates' academic, social, and citizenship skills, but also by the state's economic infrastructure. A state with better-educated students may have more difficulty than surrounding states in attracting job-generating investments because its highways are inadequate or even because its climate does not provide the amenities sought by highly educated workers. Clearly, the adequacy of schools' resources cannot be measured solely, or even primarily, by the competitiveness of state industry, although educational preparation for work cannot be ignored either. Public, and even scholarly debate about "standards" (i.e., adequate outcomes) suffers from a confusion between minimum and average goals, and between relative and absolute goals. This confusion becomes especially important if "adequacy" is defined as the resources necessary to produce "average" outcomes. Yet because it is so much easier to specify "adequacy" in norm-referenced terms, relatively little consensus exists regarding criterion-referenced adequacy, even in the basic skills of reading and math. These problems make it difficult, if not impossible, to derive an understanding of resource adequacy from the outcomes we posit as minimally acceptable. The following examples illustrate why our understanding of outcomes is still too primitive to permit inferences about resource adequacy from this understanding. President Clinton has stated a standard that "all" 9-year-olds should read at a 4th-grade level. But a "4th-grade level" is the mean for today's 4th graders. There is invariably a distribution around this mean, so that if resources are adequate for the average 4th grader to read at a 4th-grade level, then these resources will still
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generate some 4th graders reading at the average level for 2nd graders, while some 4th graders will read at the average level for 6th graders. If what President Clinton means is literally that all 4th graders should read at least as well as the average 4th grader reads today, this probably means, given the inevitable distribution of outcomes, that the average 4th grader will have to read as well as today's average 6th or 7th grader (and even this standard will leave some 4th grade students, at the far left tail of the distribution, not meeting the minimum standard of today's average 4th grade level.) Norm-referenced standards, therefore, are ultimately disconcerting for calculation of adequate resources. And the efforts of the education policy community to develop criterion-referenced standards, which in principle are necessary if resource levels are to be attached, are still relatively undeveloped. Great attention has been paid to the analyses of NAEP scores by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB). According to NAGB, for example, in reading, only 30 percent of 4th and 8th graders, and only 36 percent of 12th graders are "proficient." In math, only 21 percent of 4th graders, 24 percent of 8th graders, and only 16 percent of 12th graders are "proficient." Yet authoritative analyses of the NAGB performance standards have found them technically flawed and misleading. This makes them unsuitable for links to resource levels. The General Accounting Office found that considerably more students were probably "proficient" than the NAGB standards implied (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1993:31-32). A National Academy of Education panel concluded that the procedures by which these achievement levels had been established were "fundamentally flawed" and were "subject to large biases'' and the achievement levels by which few American students had been judged proficient were set "unreasonably high" (National Academy of Education, 1993:xxii, 148). The panel recommended to the Department of Education that NAEP Achievement Levels should not be used. In fact, the panel stated, continued use of these standards could set back the cause of education reform because it would harm the credibility of the NAEP test itself.13 The logical problems inherent in attempting to develop an outcome standard from norm-referenced rather than criterion-referenced assessments are also implicit in Richard Murnane and Frank Levy's widely cited proposal that our standard be the ability to do math and to read at a 9th-grade level, among other competencies (Murnane and Levy, 1996). By definition, however, the average 9th-grade student now does math and reads at a 9th-grade level. What Murnane and Levy must mean is that schools must be reformed so that no high school graduate or dropout reads below the level that is now average for 9th graders. They cannot mean this in a literal sense, but unspecified is precisely what the left tail of the distribution must look like to be acceptable. In the absence of an inventory of occupational projections and related academic requirements, can outcome standards be inferred statistically? We think not. Card and Krueger have shown that investment in education is positively
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related to earnings (Card and Krueger, 1996), but their approach cannot deduce an adequate level of earnings from which correlated academic achievement can be observed. As noted, absolute earnings levels are related to a wide variety of macroeconomic and labor market policies, of which educational investment is only one. While we know that better-educated adults have higher earnings than less-educated adults, this may be partly because education is used as a sorting mechanism. These difficulties in defining adequate outcomes are logically prior to the challenges of attaching input prices to these outcomes. Yet we know very little about how to address them. Meanwhile courts, legislators, and the public will continue to demand that we "put the cart before the horse" and estimate the price of adequacy before we truly know what it is. None of the preceding is intended to choke debate or impede the efforts of policymakers and analysts to design adequacy-based systems of school finance. Rather, these caveats are extended to those who might otherwise believe that determining what is adequate is a simple task of finding an able cost accountant and thereafter placing the numbers in the correct columns. Notes 1. As we note below, however, the second approach has been utilized without controls for student background characteristics. And one statistical analysis illustrative of the first approach (Duncombe and Yinger, Chapter 8 in this volume) utilizes a "voter preference/tax price" model to estimate adequate outcomes, without reference to tests or other measures of student performance. 2. How substantial are these differences? Let's make the simplistic assumption that the only important resources in education were teachers and other classroom inputs. Then, if a typical district in Wisconsin required resources for an adequate education sufficient to fund class sizes of 20, and if Reschovsky-Imazeki's analysis were correct, then Chamber's adjustment would give Milwaukee suburbs 28 percent more resources than needed, or resources sufficient for class sizes of about 14 students. If Chamber's analysis were correct, then Reschovsky-Imazeki's adjustment would give Milwaukee suburbs 28 percent fewer resources than needed, and would only give these suburbs resources sufficient for class sizes of about 26 students. 3. This methodology, based on an empirical search for districts with adequate outcomes, is the implicit theory of the New Jersey Supreme Court in Abbott v. Burke (1990), in many ways the most radical of state court adequacy decisions. The Court's reasoning suggested a requirement that (poor) districts with low outcomes (including test scores) must be able to achieve high outcomes by spending what (rich) districts with high outcomes spend. 4. Personal communication, R. Greenwald, March 19-20, 1998. 5. Although the Augenblick method in Ohio and the Cooper method in
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Illinois adjust the calculation of adequate resources to be distributed to high-poverty districts, the adequacy level itself is initially calculated in both methods by observing high-scoring districts in an investigation where all districts, regardless of student poverty intensity, must score at the same proficiency level, on average, to be considered. 6. There is too great a probability of unusual circumstances to justify inclusion beyond these distribution points. 7. Intra-state costs adjustments were the most controversial of consultants' recommendations, and citizens, legislators, and the court were eventually persuaded of the appropriateness of these adjustments only because they did not rely on mathematical manipulations beyond the skill of policymakers. 8. Wyoming districts were subsequently reduced to a statewide total of 48, as a consequence of district consolidation. 9. In 1995 in Wyoming, 11 percent of children 5-17 years old were in poverty (National Center for Education Statistics, 1998: Table 20), and fewer than 2 percent were identified as having Limited English Proficiency (U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1997: Table 2.3). A 150 percent cut-off might not be appropriate in other states where the base percentages of at-risk students were higher. 10. And, as Andrew Porter (1995) has noted, as performance standards become more sophisticated, it will become more difficult to separate them from "opportunity to learn" standards, even in high-performing districts. It is one thing to say that a state can spend resources however it wishes, provided its scores on standardized tests are adequate. However, it will not be so simple for a state to separate a requirement for adequate performance (assessed with portfolios and projects) from the way resources are arrayed to deliver instruction to fulfill such standards. "The more structure required of a portfolio, the more intrusive the portfolio becomes" (p. 23). 11. Because in each state, different expenditures were excluded for consideration from an adequacy model, and because of inter-state cost differences, this adequacy level cannot be compared to the $3,930 Augenblick deems adequate in Ohio, or the $4,225 Cooper deems adequate in Illinois, or to whatever amount is eventually deemed adequate in Mississippi, as calculated by an inferential model; or to the $6,331 Reschovsky and Imazeki deem adequate in Wisconsin, as calculated by the statistical model. (Duncombe and Yinger do not state a dollar figure for adequacy in New York, but presumably it would be whatever the district with an index number of 100 spends.) 12. In many states, the only relative wage data available are those required to be reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, and these data display average wages by industry sector, but not by occupation. Thus, reported wages in the finance sector aggregate wages of banking executives, tellers, and janitors, for example. In some states, where broad regional occupational wage data are available, they are not provided at the community level, do not include total compensation
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(including benefits), and mix average wages of full-time, part-time, and seasonal employees. 13. As this chapter went to press, a panel of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences issued a report reiterating these earlier conclusions of the GAO and NAE. According to the NRC report, cutoff points between NAEP achievement levels are "consistently set too high," leading the public to draw inappropriate conclusions about America's schools. "The current process for setting achievement levels is fundamentally flawed," the panel states. "If left unaddressed, NAEP's effectiveness and future prospects for success will be undermined" (Pellegrino et al., 1998:167 and Executive Summary). References Augenblick, J. 1997 Recommendations for a Base Figure and Pupil-Weighted Adjustments to the Base Figure for Use in a New School Finance System in Ohio. Report presented to the School Funding Task Force, Ohio Department of Education. Augenblick, J., and J. Myers 1994 Determining Base Cost for State School Funding Systems. Denver, CO: Education Commission of the States Issuegram. Augenblick, J., K. Alexander, and J.W. Guthrie 1995 Report of the Panel of Experts: Proposals for the Elimination of Wealth Based Disparities in Education. Report submitted by Ohio Chief State School Officer T. Sanders to the Ohio State Legislature. Augenblick, J.G., J.L. Myers, and A.B. Anderson 1997 Equity and adequacy in school funding. In The Future of Children: Financing Schools. 7(3):63-78. Baumol, W. 1967 Macroeconomics of unbalanced growth: The anatomy of urban crisis. American Economic Review 57:415-426. Baumol, W., S.A. Batey Blackman, and E.N. Wolff 1991 Productivity and American Leadership. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Benson, C. 1978 The Economics of Public Education. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Bureau of Labor Statistics 1997 Consumer Price Index homepage. In Bureau of Labor Statistics homepage [Online]. Available: http://stats.bls.gov/cpihome.htm. [June 16, 1998]. Card, D., and A. Krueger 1996 Labor market effects of school quality: Theory and evidence. Pp. 97-140 in Does Money Matter? The Effect of School Resources on Student Achievement and Adult Success, G. Burtless, ed. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution. Carlson, D. 1996 Adequate Yearly Progress: Issues and Strategies. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching 1992 School Choice. Princeton, NJ: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: