9
Conclusion

Throughout this book, we have emphasized that the challenges of aligning the finance system with broader educational goals are large and that knowledge about how best to proceed is incomplete. Fortunately, as is evident from our discussion in the previous three chapters, good ideas about how finance systems can be better designed are available and are currently being implemented to various degrees in different states and districts. In this chapter we summarize broad conclusions that have emerged from our analysis and argue that experimentation with different approaches must continue and in some cases be expanded. Only systematic and comprehensive testing of a variety of strategies will provide policy makers with the knowledge needed to effectively harness education finance to the goal of improved performance.

BALANCING VALUES

The nation's existing education and education finance systems reflect underlying and hard-to-alter features of American education. These features include the decentralized and complicated federal structure of government in which American education is embedded and the long and revered tradition of local control, as well as certain values that Americans hold dear.

How to take account of those deeply rooted values as one tries to improve the system is a complicated task, given that many of them conflict with one another. For example, most Americans believe in equality of opportunity, but they also believe in the right of parents to choose to spend their money for the benefit of their own children. Most Americans believe that every child has a right to a good



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Making Money Matter: Financing America's Schools 9 Conclusion Throughout this book, we have emphasized that the challenges of aligning the finance system with broader educational goals are large and that knowledge about how best to proceed is incomplete. Fortunately, as is evident from our discussion in the previous three chapters, good ideas about how finance systems can be better designed are available and are currently being implemented to various degrees in different states and districts. In this chapter we summarize broad conclusions that have emerged from our analysis and argue that experimentation with different approaches must continue and in some cases be expanded. Only systematic and comprehensive testing of a variety of strategies will provide policy makers with the knowledge needed to effectively harness education finance to the goal of improved performance. BALANCING VALUES The nation's existing education and education finance systems reflect underlying and hard-to-alter features of American education. These features include the decentralized and complicated federal structure of government in which American education is embedded and the long and revered tradition of local control, as well as certain values that Americans hold dear. How to take account of those deeply rooted values as one tries to improve the system is a complicated task, given that many of them conflict with one another. For example, most Americans believe in equality of opportunity, but they also believe in the right of parents to choose to spend their money for the benefit of their own children. Most Americans believe that every child has a right to a good

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Making Money Matter: Financing America's Schools education in a publicly funded common school, but they also believe in freedom of mobility in a way that allows affluent Americans to live together in locales able to easily support good schools and that tends to concentrate poverty and disadvantage, often in urban areas. Most Americans believe that all children should be taught to high standards, but they also believe that schools should be local institutions governed by local preferences. None of these commitments is unworthy, and each has a claim for attention. But given these conflicting values, no model of either the finance system or of the education system as a whole could ever be consistent with all of them. Despite these basic features of the U.S. education system and the competing values within which it is rooted, the committee concludes that the finance system can and should be changed in ways that will align it better with the broad objectives of fairness and school improvement. When making such changes, the challenge is to balance differing values in a thoughtful manner. The following sections highlight our conclusions about the major directions in which the system should be pushed. FOCUSING ON ADEQUACY In the committee's view, the emerging concept of funding adequacy, which moves beyond the more traditional concepts of finance equity to focus attention on sufficiency of funding for desired educational outcomes, is a useful step. At the same time, it poses risks. In addition, although adequate funding may be a necessary component of a finance strategy designed to promote goals of higher overall achievement and reducing the nexus between student achievement and family background, it must be combined with other strategies designed to increase achievement. The concept of adequacy is useful first because it shifts discussion away from inputs to educational outputs and promotes discussion of how much money is needed to achieve selected ends. Thus, when policy makers determine education budgets, attention to adequacy should shift the discussion away from how much revenue is available to the educational outcomes that they are trying to achieve. Second, the adequacy concept could drive the education system to become more productive by focusing attention on the relationship between resources and outcomes. It will encourage policy makers and managers to ask whether existing resources are being used effectively toward the goal of higher achievement. Third, it could potentially drive the system to a more equitable pattern of educational outcomes by focusing attention on the current inadequacies at the bottom end of the resource distribution. Nonetheless, the adequacy approach is not without challenges and pitfalls. The challenges include defining what is adequate, extending the concept to units smaller than the school district, and balancing adequate funding for education with demands to ''adequately" fund other worthy objectives. Pitfalls include the

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Making Money Matter: Financing America's Schools risk that policy makers will overestimate the prospects for finding technical or mechanical answers to the question of how much adequacy costs. In fact, the meaning of educational adequacy will always be to some extent a matter of policy judgment, and the amount of funding required for any given level of educational adequacy cannot be determined with any precision given the absence of a well-defined production function and given the imprecision with which many educational outcomes are measured. At the most fundamental level, major questions remain regarding the meaning of adequacy. Is it a narrow, low standard or a wide, high standard? Does it focus attention on disadvantaged students, or does it contribute to improving achievement for all students? These are not technical questions for which scientific answers can be quickly provided. They require difficult political judgments and may be subject to public resistance. Policy makers may also fail to recognize that any level of funding that is adequate for schools with a typical mix of students will need to be adjusted to account for the additional costs of educating students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Failure to make such adjustments could be detrimental to the goal of breaking the nexus between family background and student achievement. The problem, however, is that development of such cost indices is still in its infancy. In addition, failure to adjust figures for additional factors, such as geographically related cost-of-living differences, also could be detrimental to disadvantaged students to the extent that they live in cities with above-average costs of living, and hence with above-average employee remuneration related to factors outside the schools' control. Finally, the definition of funding adequacy could be pegged so low as to trivialize the concept; alternatively, adjustments could be set so high for urban areas that such areas would have no incentive to use resources in a cost-efficient way. Although some researchers have been trying to incorporate differences in the efficiency with which districts operate into their estimates of need-based adjustments, much work remains to be done before that research can be used by policy makers. On balance, however, the committee judges the new focus on adequacy of funding to be desirable and notes that efforts to ensure adequate funding will be necessary regardless of other changes that are made to the finance system. PROMOTING FAIR SPENDING AND REVENUE RAISING The new attention to the adequacy of funding does not eliminate concerns about disparities in funding across districts or schools. Indeed, the more successful strategies to make dollars effective in generating student achievement are, the greater will be the achievement consequences of any remaining disparities in cost-and need-adjusted funding levels. However, reasonable people are likely to disagree about the extent to which efforts should be made to reduce or eliminate such disparities. One view is that

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Making Money Matter: Financing America's Schools disparities are acceptable provided that all districts or schools have access to at least an adequate level of funding (appropriately adjusted for the differential burdens associated with costs of educational inputs or with the mix of students served). To holders of this view, fairness relates only to the bottom end of the distribution of spending. Once the state has ensured that no district or school falls below the floor needed to provide an adequate education, it would not be deemed unfair for some schools or districts to spend more than the minimum. Indeed, enabling school districts to raise revenues in excess of those deemed to be adequate offers some potential benefits. Such behavior may induce greater local engagement with schools, and greater attention by local taxpayers to their performance, than would otherwise occur if the education system came to be viewed as a remote bureaucracy outside the sphere of influence by common citizens. It may also generate resources for education at levels that are more in line with consumer preferences, which vary across districts. Others, however, may well take issue with the idea that funding levels could ever be adequate for all students if some districts or schools spend significantly more than other districts or schools. Moreover, a potential trade-off exists between the goal of ensuring fairness in spending levels and the deeply held values of consumer sovereignty and local control. One aspect of local control refers to control over the level of spending and the desire of local communities to make their own decisions about how much to spend on education. Here compromises will need to be made between the values of fairness and local control over spending. Another is control over how a given amount of money is spent within the school district. The magnitude of the trade-off between fairness and this second concept of local control depends in part on the extent to which any efforts by the state to ensure funding adequacy include controls over how local governments spend the money. Further progress toward funding adequacy in spending and fairness in revenue raising will almost surely require an expanded role for states and the federal government. Only a larger state role in revenue raising can ensure that all schools and districts have sufficient funds to provide an adequate level of education, as defined through the state's political process, given the low fiscal capacity relative to educational needs of some school districts. In addition, a larger state role can reduce the potential regressivity arising from property taxation (although a shift to heavy reliance on a regressive state sales tax could offset some or all of such benefit). With respect to sources of local revenue, the property tax fares reasonably well in terms of standard criteria for evaluating taxes, although states have a clear role to play in ensuring that the local property tax is fairly administered. There are several grounds on which a larger federal role might be justified: on the grounds of overcoming interstate disparities in spending that result from differences in state fiscal capacity; on the grounds of ensuring that all states can provide adequate funding should some national standard of adequacy be defined; or on the grounds that the federal government should take responsibility for

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Making Money Matter: Financing America's Schools providing educational support for poor, disabled, and otherwise disadvantaged students. MAKING MONEY MATTER MORE We have reviewed the literature on whether and how money matters. That review makes it clear that additional funding for education will not automatically and necessarily generate greater student achievement and in the past has not, infact, generally led to higher achievement. Nevertheless, understanding of educational productivity is improving, both research and practice are increasingly informed by more sophisticated hypotheses about how to use resources effectively, and examples can be found of strategically chosen finance changes (sometimes involving reallocated funds, sometimes involving new monies, and frequently linked in a systematic way to other educational changes) that are making a difference. While there is still much to learn about how to make schools better and how to deploy resources effectively, the committee is convinced that money can matter and that the lessons from research and practice make it increasingly possible to make informed school finance choices that make money matter for achieving educational objectives. The committee, as well as society, are less in agreement over the degree of confidence to have in particular strategies. While some are confident regarding which inputs make the best investments (for example, smaller class sizes or higher-quality teachers), others assert that what may be productive in one context may be less so in another. A key productivity challenge for the former group is how to ensure that those specific investments are made. For the latter group, a key challenge is to design incentives either through administered mechanisms such as accountability or financial bonuses and penalties or through market mechanisms such as school choice or private contracting—to encourage each school to make the types of investments that will be best for it given its particular situation. One of the greatest challenges is how best to induce a productive use of resources in large urban districts serving disproportionate numbers of disadvantaged students. The productivity problems in these areas differ in some significant ways from those of suburban areas, and there appear to be no easy or simple solutions. NEW RESEARCH INITIATIVES FOR URBAN AREAS Despite the nation's almost continuous attention to education reform, which has been especially intense in the last quarter century, much remains to be learned about how to use resources most effectively to foster higher levels of learning for all children. Another National Research Council panel on education research recently pointed out (National Research Council, 1999) that the benefits of re-

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Making Money Matter: Financing America's Schools form efforts are not fully realized in part because education research has not been organized, funded, and utilized as well as has research in other important fields of public policy. That report calls for a large-scale and sharply defined program of research, demonstration, and evaluation aimed at a limited set of research questions aimed at strengthening schools and bringing about substantial improvement in student learning. In the same spirit, this committee notes that the educational challenges facing urban districts and schools serving concentrations of disadvantaged students are particularly severe. Social science research currently provides few definitive answers about how to improve educational outcomes for these children. The failure of past piecemeal reforms to generate clear gains in achievement in these most troubled of U.S. schools highlights the urgency of more systematic experimentation with and evaluation of urban school reform. In part, this means more extensive evaluation of reform efforts currently under way, such as changes that link financing with performance standards and the expanding experience with charter schools. In addition, this means deliberate creation and evaluation of education experiments (both quasi-experiments and true experiments with random assignment of subjects to treatment and control groups1) that genuinely challenge business as usual in schools and districts with large numbers of low-performing students. Since the benefits of experimentation and evaluation extend beyond any one district or state, the federal government is the most logical entity to finance some of this inquiry. It makes little sense for individual states or local school districts to invest in this research, the results of which benefit an entire nation. Thus, it is to the federal government that we look to mobilize the effort and generate sufficient resources to conduct such research to a high standard. This will require a significantly greater investment than the nation traditionally makes in education research, which is significantly underfunded compared with research in other areas of public policy and compared with what companies expect to invest in researching and developing their products (Consortium on Productivity in the Schools, 1995; Independent Review Panel on the Evaluation of Federal Educa- 1    Researchers testing new programs in demonstration projects to find out what works employ both experimental and quasi-experimental methods. In true experiments, research subjects are randomly assigned to either a treatment group or to an untreated ("control") group. True experiments with random assignment are often thought to be the best approach to demonstration research in the field of public policy because random assignment controls for differences among treated and untreated groups that may be impossible to capture in other ways. Nevertheless, true experiments are not always possible or desirable. They are comparatively costly, for example, and there may be ethical or political constraints that preclude denying some individuals access to the treatment group. Therefore researchers also conduct quasi-experiments that rely on comparison groups (e.g., groups similar to treatment group but located in different sites) or statistical techniques that are applied to available datasets about people similar to those in the treatment group in order to assess the impact of the program design being tested (Nathan, 1988).

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Making Money Matter: Financing America's Schools tion Legislation, 1999; National Research Council, 1999; President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology, 1997). In setting priorities among major new experimental projects, the committee was faced with a basic difference in philosophical approach: between those who would focus reform efforts largely within the existing public school system and those who believe that reform requires a more dramatic break with traditional finance strategies, through something like publicly funded educational vouchers that could be used at either public or private schools. Some committee members consider that the highest priority (especially for federally funded research) should be evaluating new approaches to building capacity in public schools and creating incentives for improved performance working within or on the edges of the existing system of school governance. This research effort might involve evaluating innovations that are already occurring or the initiation of quasi-experimental research projects to test ideas that do not occur naturally, or both. Some committee members consider that the highest priority should be on testing a major alternative (i.e., vouchers) to the existing system of public education, especially in urban areas. To them, both the theory supporting vouchers and the limited evidence currently available about their effects warrant a major federally funded experiment on vouchers. Only with a large and ambitious experiment (employing a random-assignment research design) on the scale of those that have been conducted in housing and welfare policy would it be possible to give vouchers a true test. Moreover, given the large number of recent public proposals by elected officials for more use of vouchers and parental choice, they judge that an experiment of this type should be high on the priority list for major new research efforts. While acknowledging the potential value of such an experiment, other committee members object to the use of public funds for this purpose. Underlying support for a voucher experiment is the view that improving education for at-risk children in cities with chronically poor schools requires dramatic change in school finance policies and the recognition that only a large-scale, random-assignment experiment can adequately address the many controversies that have surrounded the voucher idea since Milton Friedman (1962) popularized it nearly 40 years ago. The results of the small-scale efforts currently under way are often difficult to interpret, have been the subject of heated disagreements, and shed little or no light on how a large voucher program would affect the traditional public schools. These limitations arise because of the difficulties researchers have controlling for unmeasured differences among students, families, and schools and because none of the current experiments is large enough to have significant feedback effects on the regular public schools. According to this view, definitive lessons require a large-scale effort carried out with a strong research design and carefully controlled experimental conditions. In summary, the committee proposes several new education experiments, without specifying the priority among them.

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Making Money Matter: Financing America's Schools Research Project on Building Professional Capacity A research project focused on building professional capacity would explore effects on student achievement of basic changes in conditions of professional learning and work. It would address the two-prong problem that many urban districts face in achieving high quality of teaching and learning: the inability to attract and retain an adequate supply of well-prepared educators and administrators and insufficient resources to provide the kind of intensive and on-site professional development needed to support significant improvements in practice. The project would seek to document the educational effects of an investment in professional capacity that is comparable in magnitude to that routinely made in American industry, on the order of 10 percent of operating budgets. It would be designed around current knowledge of effective approaches to developing professional capacity and would be evaluated as a system of coherent, interdependent strategies pursued by key stakeholders in public education. The proposed project is grounded in evidence reported in Chapter 5 that large urban school systems face a constant challenge in recruiting and retaining teachers well qualified to teach in the content areas. Given the limited supply of well-prepared teachers seeking employment in such systems, the experiment would include incentives to attract well-prepared teachers to districts and schools serving the poorest and least academically successful students and investments in sustained professional development for individuals who teach in these settings. A capacity-building approach assumes that the supply problem will not be addressed by increased competition among urban schools for high-quality teachers and administrators, but needs to be addressed directly through economic incentives to attract teachers to these systems and through intensive preparation and support of teachers making their careers in these systems. The project also is grounded in evidence from research on teacher learning cited in Chapter 6 and from successful teaching reforms like that of New York's District 2 (Elmore and Burney, 1997, 1998) that call for significantly greater and better investment in professional development at all levels of local school systems. The design for a capacity-building experiment would meet several criteria gleaned from this research: some relate to system conditions for implementing the strategy; other criteria relate to strategies for developing professional capacity. Necessary system conditions include: established state or district standards for student learning, student assessments aligned with the standards, adequate school safety and supports for students and families, teacher union collaboration in designing and supporting system strategies to enhance professional capacity, and the school board's commitment to a long-term project. The project should take place under conditions that fully reflect (and therefore test the possibilities for changing) the constraints that urban districts face, such as the rigidities in union contracts that restrict the options of school principals and district administrators to deal with teachers whose performance is regarded as poor.

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Making Money Matter: Financing America's Schools Professional development strategies would build on several key design principles, such as: learning for teaching is focused on standards for student learning, beginning teacher education includes intensive support and mentoring during the first years of teaching, learning is built into the daily work of school professionals through inquiry and collaboration, administrators are partners in school learning communities and in communities examining administrative practice, and schools have authority to act on their learning of effective practice for the students they serve. The core of this strategy is establishing conditions of teachers' work that engender ongoing learning around shared responsibility and practice. The capacity-building research project will need to address local political and cultural challenges, as well as financial demands, entailed in radically reframing the work of school professionals. Where is the locus of responsibility and authority to design structures for learning in daily professional work? What structures should be established at the system level and what should be tailored to the school? For example, is it desirable to follow models from abroad and expand teachers' work beyond the typical U.S. school day and year, with higher salaries; or to create incentive systems for individuals or schools to invest in professional development on-and off-site; or to mix and match such centralized and decentralized approaches? A bold federal experiment for reorganizing conditions of the profession will have the unique potential to minimize local politics and maximize wisdom in order to seriously test the capacity-building theory of improving the quality and equity of American education. The key challenge for a capacity-building strategy is ensuring sufficient coherence in the vision, leadership, and incentives around professional learning to test this theory of educational reform. The potential is established by the progress that some states and districts have thus far made on standards-based, systemic reform. The missing piece of this broader reform strategy is establishing conditions for the kind of ongoing and collaborative learning among teachers and administrators that can sustain improved practice around shared standards for student learning. The time is ripe to test the theory through a federal investment in supporting and evaluating a sustained best-case effort to implement the new paradigm for developing professional quality. This experiment risks criticism that a selected state and district that meet the criteria of sufficient standards-based reform to warrant the investment will be privileged in funding for work under way. The capacity-building design therefore must be sufficiently bold and counter-normative to provide both a strong test of the theory and exception from such criticism of more money for business as usual. The district site of the experiment would be testing uncharted terrain in American education reform and would provide information to the nation on the value of continuing a course of systemic reform. Evaluation of the experiment would focus on all facets of implementing the capacity-building design. Of particular interest will be gaining a better understanding of the balance of incentives that engender professionals' engagement in

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Making Money Matter: Financing America's Schools learning opportunities created by the experiment. Is increased emphasis on teachers' collective responsibility for student success and opportunities for their collective learning sufficient to motivate and sustain teachers' professional commitment and learning? How do individual incentives and systems, such as certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards fit into the strategy for building local capacity? The ultimate purpose of the evaluation is to determine the impact of the project and its component parts on the learning outcomes of students. To isolate those outcomes, careful attention will have to be paid to the identification of appropriate comparison districts. Incentives There is also room for a great deal more systematic experimentation with incentives to motivate higher performance by teachers and schools. Economic theory based on free market principles suggests that incentives are an underutilized tool in education, but currently little is known about how best to apply these principles to schools, teachers, and students. Because people in organizations respond to rewards and sanctions, it is especially important that care be taken in designing such systems; establishing an incorrect or overly simple goal could result in distorted behavior or performance that proves to be counterproductive. Nevertheless, more attention needs to be paid than in the past to performance incentives in America's current education system. This situation is beginning to change. Noneconomic incentives such as new and more rigorous graduation requirements are being implemented around the country. Financial rewards and sanctions for schools are also becoming more widespread (see Chapter 6). More systematic research is needed on these naturally occurring incentives. Of particular interest would be a major investigation of various forms of pay systems that reward teachers for their knowledge and skills rather than simply for years of experience and graduate courses. Such an approach has significant conceptual appeal as a way to make money matter more for student achievement, but a large number of questions remain to be answered. Before such pay systems are introduced on a large scale, it would be desirable to learn more about their effectiveness in encouraging teachers to obtain the skills they need to increase student learning. Moreover, to the extent that the results of such research are positive, they could play an important role in making such an approach to teacher pay more palatable to teachers' unions than such changes might otherwise be. Similarly, systematic research regarding the effects of performance accountability and the pressures of standards-based education reform on teacher recruitment, retention, and turnover would be beneficial. Anecdotal information suggests that such programs are increasing turnover and may be making schools that are identified as low performing less attractive to teachers. Thus, it would be

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Making Money Matter: Financing America's Schools desirable to determine how such programs affect the types of teachers who are attracted to and remain in an education system. Research Project on School Vouchers In contrast to the previous research investments, a voucher experiment is specifically intended to explore a major change in the system of education governance. A large-scale project employing a random-assignment research design can be justified in part based on the success of similar projects in other fields in answering important questions about major social programs. Housing, welfare, and medical policies have frequently been the subject of this kind of experimental research. Education has not, although the Tennessee STAR class-size experiment (see Chapter 5) represents a notable exception. The purpose of a major experiment with school vouchers would be to determine whether a carefully crafted voucher program can bring about broad-based improvement in educational outcomes, especially for children in areas of concentrated disadvantage, without either significantly increasing costs relative to the current system or significantly worsening stratification by race and income. The selection of schools and school districts is crucial for the experiment envisioned here. Many public schools serve their students well. Many suburban schools, for example, provide an excellent education to middle-and upper-income children and many urban schools succeed in very difficult environments. But some low-income and minority children, many of whom are concentrated in large urban school districts, are poorly served. Thus it would seem to make sense to focus the choice experiment on large urban districts. Middle-class families currently have many choices; they can choose to live in neighborhoods and school districts that offer their children the best possible education, and they can choose to send their children to private schools. Public schools in the suburbs face stiff competition from surrounding districts. The purpose of the experiment would be to explore the extent to which expanding choice, including the choice of private schools, in urban districts would have significant benefits to the children who otherwise would attend public schools in those districts. The scale of such an experiment is crucially important. Choice advocates often argue that all children would gain if choice were expanded to private schools. Those students who attend private schools would be better off because private schools are more effective than public schools and those who remain in the public schools will be better off because the public sector will respond to increased competition by offering a better education to their students. This hypothesis can be tested only if a choice experiment is sufficiently large for public schools to perceive a growing private sector as effective competition. The experiment might, for example, offer vouchers to a significant fraction of students in several different school districts. The experiment would need to continue for an extended period. For the

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Making Money Matter: Financing America's Schools experiment to be effective, parents need to know that their children will be able to continue in their new schools, those contemplating opening new private schools must know that the vouchers they depend on will continue, parents will need time to evaluate the new options available to their children, public schools must have the opportunity to respond to this change in their environment, and private schools must have time to learn from their inevitable mistakes at the outset of the experiment. A 10-year time frame seems sensible. Since we would not expect all efforts to extend choice to be suspended pending the outcome of this experiment, states or individual school districts moving forward with choice on their own could benefit from examining both the design of the experiment and any early findings from it. Central to the experimental design should be features designed to ensure that low-income families will have an expanded set of schools from which to choose. This goal could be achieved in a number of different ways, and it might make sense to design the experiment so that the relative merits of these alternatives could be evaluated. These alternatives include scaling the size of the voucher to income so that the poorest families would face small, possibly zero, out-of-pocket costs to send their children to private schools. Alternatively, participating schools could be forced to set aside a fraction of the slots in their school for children from low-income families before they can cash vouchers from any children. In some circumstances, it might be essential to provide children from poor families with subsidized transportation. While the experiment could be structured in a number of sensible ways, to the extent possible it should avoid subsidizing upper-income families who would have sent their children to private schools even without a voucher program. At-risk children, including children in special education, should be given larger vouchers so that they can also effectively participate in the experiment. Some difficult issues emerge related to admissions policy and tuition. If choice is to be effective, private schools should be given a great deal of flexibility; it would make no sense to initiate a large-scale choice experiment and then place such a broad range of constraints on private schools that they will, as a consequence, fail. This principle suggests that private schools be given flexibility, for example, in designing their curriculum and in hiring and promoting teachers. This principle also suggests that private schools should be given a good deal of freedom in setting admissions policy and tuition. But the dangers here are obvious. If they can pick and choose students, the advantages of a randomized experiment are reduced, and if they can set tuition so high that low-income children cannot afford to attend, the experiment will not reach the children who now are often poorly served by the public schools. It might be possible to mitigate some of these problems with means-tested vouchers. Nonetheless, these tough issues will require a great deal of careful thought. With respect to accountability, at a minimum it would seem sensible to require schools receiving vouchers to provide information to the public on cur-

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Making Money Matter: Financing America's Schools riculum, admissions policies, staff, and student test scores. Schools that receive vouchers also should be required to have their students take specified standardized tests as part of the evaluation of the experiment. It would also make sense, however, to be somewhat cautious about establishing these accountability measures. The problem here again is one of providing sufficient flexibility to private schools. If private schools were required to meet a very long and detailed list of mandates, they would lose much of their freedom and the result of the experiment would be preordained. The design will also need to specify which types of schools will be allowed to receive vouchers. Religious schools are an obvious issue. A recent court decision allowed religious schools in Milwaukee to participate in that city's choice experiment, but clearly this question raises some difficult issues in the separation of church and state. It might make good sense to allow students to use their vouchers to attend public schools outside their district. Evaluation should be built into any such experiment from the start. It should focus largely on academic outcomes, but should look at other outcomes, such as school safety, as well. For a number of reasons, that evaluation will be far from straightforward. Suppose vouchers are offered to some of the children in a school district, with the intent of comparing the education outcomes of those who receive vouchers with those who do not. But now suppose that the public schools respond to expanded choice by offering their students a better education. In this case we might find that the control and experimental group have the same outcomes, but clearly it would be wrong to conclude that the choice experiment had been a failure. Suppose further that vouchers were offered randomly, but only to children whose parents agreed to participate in the experiment. This design would provide information about the children from families in which the parents care enough about their children to learn about the choice experiment and would be willing to have them be a part of the experiment, but very little about the rest of the students in the district. These evaluation challenges mean that setting up such a project will require significant planning by a team of experts in the field of research design.