Evidence demonstrates that school funding is critical to student success.

Evidence demonstrates that school funding is critical to student success.

This post is from a report on school finance released by KASB as the Kansas Legislature works to develop a new school finance plan in compliance with the Kansas Supreme Court decision on adequate funding. Today: how past Kansas funding has supported educational improvement, how states that outperform Kansas fund their public schools; and what past Kansas studies have said about funding and student success.

The Kansas supreme Court agreed that money is related to educational performance. Multiple reasons support this.

A. Until recently, Kansas educational improvement was supported by increasing funding more than inflation and targeting more funding at special needs students.

A previous post discussed the steady increase in educational attainment in Kansas. That rise in education levels has been matched by funding increases that have consistently exceeded inflation. However, since 2009, total funding has fallen behind inflation.

As part of higher overall funding, much more funding has been added to address special student needs. Between 2000 and 2015, total state funding for general operating funds, special education state aid and local option budgets increased about $1.4 billion. Over 44 percent of that increase was for “restricted” purposes such as special education or  at-risk services (including expansion of all day kindergarten programs, bilingual services and transportation).

In addition, federal funding for targeted programs such as special education and Title I programs for disadvantaged students increased from $130 million to $325 million, and federal aid for student meal programs doubled from $90 million to $180 million between 2000 and 2015.

Together, these programs helped school districts graduate more students and prepare more students for postsecondary education and careers. Kansas has boosted graduation rates and prepared more students for college by assisting students that previously did not reach those levels.

B. States with higher overall student achievement than Kansas in areas related to the “Rose” capacities provide more total funding.

Last August, KASB ranked all states on a weighted average of 15 indicators closely aligned to the Legislature’s state education goals and the State Board’s Kansans Can outcomes.
The indicators are: percent of young adults completing high school, some college or a four-year degree by age 24; graduation rates for all students, low income, disabled, English Language Learners, percent of all students, low income and non-low income students at both the basic and proficient levels of the National Assessment of Education Progress, and performance on the ACT and SAT tests, adjusted for percent of students participating.

Here are more details the research found:

• The nine states with higher overall average achievement (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Iowa, Nebraska, Vermont, Illinois, North Dakota and Connecticut) provided about $4,800 more per pupil than Kansas, and about $3,000 if adjusted for cost of living differences. (2014 data).

• The 10 lowest performing states (Alabama, Oregon, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, Arizona, Louisiana, New Mexico, Alaska and Nevada) provided an average of $500 less per pupil than Kansas, and over $1,000 less if adjusted for cost of living.
Although Kansas remains a high achieving state, on most of the 15 educational measures used, the national average improved more than Kansas. In other words, Kansas has been lagging in both funding and educational improvement.

C. Past Kansas studies have shown the importance of funding levels and targeted funding.

Following the Montoy decision by the Kansas Supreme Court, the Legislature commissioned the Legislative Post Audit Division to conduct a comprehensive study of the cost of K-12 in terms of both required inputs and desired outcomes. The results included three major findings.

First, the study found a nearly one-to-one correlation between increased funding and student outcomes measured by standardized tests.

Second, the study developed the basis for the major weightings set by the Legislature and approved by the Kansas Supreme Court under the previous school finance system, and which are recommended by the House K-12 Budget Committee in HB 2410.

Third, adjusted for inflation, the base or foundational amount found to be required to meet standards in 2006 would be significantly higher today.