Guthrie et al. had been retained by the state legislature to design a system to fulfill a mandate of the Wyoming Supreme Court in Campbell v. Wyoming. The court prohibited the legislature from considering the total cost of a new education funding system, requiring that the "best" (i.e., adequate) system be funded regardless of cost: "lack of financial resources will not be an acceptable reason for failure to provide the best education system." Therefore, unlike the Alaska and Illinois experts for the RCM, the Wyoming professional expert groups were not asked to balance adequacy with expense in making their recommendations. Second, in defining adequacy, Guthrie et al. consulted with professional expert groups in Wyoming and nationally, but did not rely exclusively on the opinions of practitioners. Rather, these opinions were used to inform the consultants' views, based on national research and prior experience, regarding the resource elements necessary to produce adequate outcomes. In this respect, the Guthrie et al. approach is consistent with the ''whole school designs" analysis as described by Odden.
Third, learning from the Illinois and Alaska experiences, Guthrie et al. did not use a complex statistical method (regression models) to calculate resource costs or cost adjustments, believing that they would be unlikely to be able to explain how these calculations were made in a manner that would be understood and accepted by nonprofessional policymakers, educators, and citizens. Rather, less sophisticated but more easily understandable methods, still based on economic theory, were employed.7
Fourth, because the Wyoming legislature was ordered by the court to produce recommendations for adequacy on very short notice, Guthrie et al. calculated the costs only of the main elements of an adequate education, using less precise methods to estimate other costs. (For example, cost of utilities was calculated by taking the average cost of Wyoming districts in the prior year, with no attempt to specify resources necessary to reach a target temperature for classrooms when controlled for building insulation standards.)
Guthrie et al. also adopted the professional judgment approach (as opposed to the Augenblick approach of inferring resources from observed adequate outcomes) not only because of concerns, described above, about poorly specified outcome measures in education generally, but because the state of Wyoming did not utilize a standardized achievement test like that in Ohio, Illinois, Mississippi, or Texas, even for narrowly defined academic outcomes, and so even poorly specified outcome data were not available. In many states without adequate assessments, the professional judgment method may be the only alternative available, without resorting to the sorts of indirect voter preference models suggested by Duncombe and Yinger.
We prefer the professional judgment approach, not because we believe it is more precise than statistical or inferential methods (it may not be more precise), but rather because its imprecision is more transparent. When one econometric model finds a great difference in cost between two districts, while another model