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Knowledge From the Field

Measuring Inequity in School Funding

Published: August 2011

Publisher(s): Center for American Progress

Author(s): Epstein, Diana

Funder(s): Ford Foundation

View Report (25 pages; 365KB; PDF)

Area of Focus: Low-Performing Schools


The report examines the differences in per-pupil funding across states, intrastate fiscal inequity, and the different measures used to characterize funding equity among districts within a state.

Key Findings and/or Recommendations

=States should employ progressive school finance systems so districts with higher percentages of low-income children receive more resources than those with fewer low-income children.

=A useful fiscal equity measure should express the relative level of funding inequity in a state, adjust for local cost differences and include weights for extra student needs, capture whether or not a state’s school finance system is progressive or regressive (providing more or less funding to districts with a high percentage of low-income children), and be relatively simple to use and explain.

=The federal government could play a role in incentivizing states to create more progressive school finance systems.

-Many states are not fairly funding their school districts.

Focus: National

Subjects/Keywords: Inequity; Low-Income; Reform; School Funding

+ Successful strategy
= Observation
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