New Funding Model Improves Student Achievement

“One of our very promising findings suggests that the larger the share of a district’s budget that goes directly to the schools on a per-student basis, the better the performance,” says Katie Furtick, co-author the Reason Foundation’s Weighted Student Formula Yearbook.

According to the report, Weighted Student Funding (WSF) “is a student-driven rather than program-driven budgeting process. It goes by several names including results-based budgeting, student-based budgeting, “backpacking” or fair-student funding. In every case the meaning is the same: dollars rather than staffing positions follow students into schools. In many cases, these resources are weighted based on the individual needs of the student.”

It is likely that the Weighted Student Funding model will be examined closely by Georgia next year as it searches for a replacement for its outdated Quality Basic Education funding formula. In fact, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce published an in-depth study on this topic last year – “Georgia’s Roadmap for K-12 Finance Reform.”

The Reason report lists the five principles of a full weighted student formula system:

  1. Funding should follow the child, on a per-student basis, to the public school that he or she attends.
  2. Per-student funding should vary according to the child’s need and other relevant circumstances.
  3. Funding should arrive at the school as real dollars—not as teaching positions, ratios or staffingnorms—that can be spent flexibly, with accountability systems focused more on results and less on inputs, programs or activities.
  4. Principles for allocating money to schools should apply to all levels of funding, including federal,state and local dollars.
  5. Funding systems should be as simple as possible and made transparent to administrators, teachers,parents and citizens.

The report also added that “In addition to the actual weighted student formula, a full school empowerment program includes public school choice and principal autonomy. Every school in a district becomes a school of choice and the funding system gives individuals, particularly school administrators, the autonomy to make local decisions.”

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