Abstract

In recent years, state legislatures, state education departments, and advocacy groups in more than thirty states have sponsored education adequacy studies, which aim to determine objectively the amount of funding needed to provide all students with a meaningful opportunity for an adequate education. Based on a detailed analysis of judicial and other critiques of the state of the art of “costing-out” studies, this policy brief recommends specific mechanisms for defining the outcome standards for these studies, more precise means for identifying the extent to which students with special needs require extra resources, ways to minimize political bias and manipulations, and the use of “quality education models” to integrate efficiency and accountability considerations into the basic cost analysis. More extensive public engagement and continuing judicial oversight will be necessary to ensure the credibility and legitimacy of the ultimate judgments that result from these studies.

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