With the release of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s 2018–19 school report cards, parents and administrators now have access to information on school-level spending for all Massachusetts public schools. These data start to shed light on how funds are distributed among schools that differ by enrollment size, grades served, and student need, among many other factors.
Most previous data and research have centered on education funding and spending at the district level. These new data provide insights into spending at individual schools. This brief aims to provide context for these data by assessing factors that affect school spending levels within districts and across Massachusetts.
In addition, this brief highlights issues around equitable resource allocation across schools. Allocating resources equally among schools is not necessarily equitable, because high-need students (i.e., students who are economically disadvantaged, students with disabilities, and English learners) may require more resources to achieve academic success. In this brief, we assess whether schools with higher shares of high-need students spend more per pupil, both across the state and within a given school district.
Access the brief here (choose the report titled DESE Policy Brief: A First Look at School-Level Expenditures (December 2019)).