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STATE FUNDING GAPS: New Education Trust Report Finds Large Funding Gaps Between High- and Low-Poverty School Districts

"In an era of high standards for all students, not just some, directing fewer state and local dollars to districts with the greatest need is simply unconscionable."

According to a new report by the Education Trust, large funding gaps continue to exist between high-income and low-income and minority districts in many states. The report, The Funding Gap, found that in most states the school districts that educate the greatest number of low-income and minority students typically receive substantially less state and local money per student than districts with the fewest low-income and minority students.

The report found that some progress has been made, but much more work needs to be done in closing the funding gap. While 34 of 49 states have closed the gap to some degree, 28 states still provide fewer state and local education dollars per student than districts enrolling the lowest percentages of minority students. The numbers do not take into account the additional costs typically associated with educating low-income students. When making slight adjustments for this cost, the number grows to 30 states, with seven states possessing a per-student funding gap of over $1,000. Nationally, from 1997 to 2001, the per-student funding gap between the quarter of districts educating the greatest number of poor students and the quarter of districts educating the fewest poor students narrowed slightly, from $1,139 to $1,020.

Kati Haycock, Director of the Education Trust, stressed the partnership that needs to exist between states and the federal government when it comes to educating all students. “Let’s be clear,” she said. “Congress and the President need to do their part by fully funding No Child Left Behind. But states are primarily responsible for education funding, and they have to do their part too. In an era of high standards for all students, not just some, directing fewer state and local dollars to districts with the greatest need is simply unconscionable.”

The report offers recommendations to help states narrow this funding gap. These recommendations include reducing reliance on local property taxes by reworking the state funding system, and providing additional targeted funding for high-poverty districts. “Every state provides some state resources to K-12 education, and most states provide some additional funding to high-poverty districts,” said Kevin Carey, Senior Policy Analyst and author of the report. “The problem is that many don’t do enough to make up for what can often be huge resource differences between poor and wealthy communities,” he concluded.

The complete report is available from the Education Trust at:

Adequate Yearly Progress: Progress and Challenges

Washington Partners, LLC is hosting a conference on to explore the implementation and future of the adequate yearly progress requirement of the No Child Left Behind Act. The conference will examine the history of the law, discuss the challenges in meeting its requirements, and explore innovative solutions.

Speakers are scheduled to include:

  • Dr. Eugene W. Hickok, U.S. Under Secretary of Education
  • Jay Mathews, The Washington Post
  • Dr. Patricia Harvey, Superintendent, St. Paul Public Schools, St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Dr. Henry Johnson, State Superintendent, Mississippi Department of Education
  • Joseph F. Johnson, Jr., Special Assistant to the State Superintendent, Ohio Department of Education
  • Dr. Margaret McLaughlin, University of Maryland
  • Delia Pompa, National Association for Bilingual Education
  • Dr. Mel Riddile, Principal, JEB Stuart High School, Falls Church, Virginia
  • Ricki Sabia, National Down Syndrome Society
  • Dr. Eric J. Smith, Superintendent, Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Maryland
  • Marvel Smith, Principal, Seabrook Elementary School, Seabrook, Maryland
  • Ross Wiener, Policy Director, The Education Trust

More information is available from the Washington Partners Web site at:


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