Weighted Student Funding Overview


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This presentation defines and explores how school districts can fund schools through a more decentralized system that connects extra dollars to students that require additional resources.

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Weighted Student Funding Overview

  2. 2. Why do districts decide to implement WSF? • EQUITY: Students are funded equitably regardless of which school they attend. • SCHOOL EMPOWERMENT: Schools have both the autonomy and the responsibility to design their schools to best meet their student needs. • INNOVATION: Principals have the freedom to organize their school in whatever way they believe will best serve their students. • ACCOUNTABILITY: Every school controls its own budget and school leaders are responsible for resource decisions and related outcomes. • TRANSPARENCY: A WSF formula makes it clear to all relevant stakeholders how much money schools receive and how the allocation process works. 2
  3. 3. Before we begin, let‟s talk a little about terminology … Weighted Student Funding??? Districts use many different names for their WSF systems … 3
  4. 4. Here are a few important terms that are often used when discussing the WSF formula WSF Formula: The formula that the district will use to allocate out the WSF Pool to schools – the formula is calculated using the WSF Weights and Student Enrollment data. BASE WEIGHT: Weight that every student receives FOUNDATION: Fixed amount given to all schools (or just to small schools) to help cover baseline “fixed” costs NEED WEIGHTS: Additional $s provided to meet the needs of certain student populations GRADE-LEVEL PERFORMANCE (HIGH and LOW) SPECIAL EDUCATION ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS MOBILITY SCHOOL TYPE
  5. 5. Here are a few important terms that are often used when discussing school control of resources LOCKED or RETAINED CENTRALLY • Resources that the district will manage centrally due to a compelling reason: consistency, economies of scale, etc. • These $s are not included in the WSF Pool and are not allocated out via the WSF Formula UNLOCKED or DEVOLVED to SCHOOLS • Resources that schools have budgetary control over – i.e., schools are responsible for providing these services using their WSF Allocations and meeting any applicable federal, state, local, funding, union requirements • Resources that will be included in the WSF Pool and allocated to schools based on the WSF formula.
  6. 6. Under WSF, schools receive $s based on the needs of the students at their schools … The district will determines how much it costs to serve different student types, for example: Mark Maria 1.60 = $8,000 1.50 = $7,500 Additional Weight - the additional $s given to SPED Resource certain students to 0.5 = $2,500 ELL reflect the increased 0.4 = $2,000 cost to serving their Poverty learning challenges High School 0.1 = $500 0.05 = $250 Base Weight - the $s 1.0 = $5,000 1.0 = $5,000 that all students receive 6
  7. 7. Due to internal/external restrictions around the $s that districts receive, WSF is just one part of how $s are allocated to schools How districts get $s: How districts allocate $s to schools: Allocated via WSF Formula GENERAL FUND $s “Locked funds” allocated via District Policy (i.e., 1 art teacher per school, $200/pp for library books) CATEGORICAL FUND $s Allocated via rules of the categorical fund 7
  8. 8. So schools will receive budgets made up of all three components: Example: Elementary School Budget Weighted Student Funding Enrollment Weight Total $s Base Weight 500 1.0 = $5,000 $2,500,000 Poverty 300 0.1 = $500 $150,000 Important ELL 33 0.3 = $3,000 $100,000 Implications : SPED – Resource/Consultant 10 1.0 = $5,000 $50,000 Schools will TOTAL : $2.8 million likely receive Special Funds Locked Funds a significant portion of their Title I Allocation $100,000 Custodian/Cleaner 2 FTE = $75,000 budgets Title III Allocation $75,000 SPED TCOSE/CASE 1 FTE = $75,000 outside of WSF C4E Allocation $75,000 Utilities & Maintenance $100,000 Total: $250k Total: $100k + 3 FTES Total School Budget: $3.3 million 88
  9. 9. WSF and Locked Funds should cover basic school structures, while Special Funds are used to provide add„l support services Education Resource Strategies 9
  10. 10. Two of the most important decisions that districts have to make in developing their WSF system are: 1 What resources will be “unlocked” under WSF – a.k.a., budgetary control will be given to schools? 2 What student characteristics will the WSF formula weight? And how much should the weights be? 10
  11. 11. 1. To Lock or Unlock? That is the question … Does school control of this resource fit within the district’s VISION OF THE PRINCIPAL‟S ROLE? Is this resource a key CENTRAL ROLE such that devolving it impacts the district’s ability to fulfill a vital function? Is this resource a district-wide priority that the district wants each school/student to have CONSISTENT access to it? Is this resource needed INFREQUENTLY OR UNPREDICTABLY, making it hard for schools to budget for it? Does this resource have REQUIRED INPUT/OUTPUT such that the district is accountable for it to external source? Does this resource have ECONOMIES OF SCALE such that the savings for centralizing outweighs desire of school control? 11
  12. 12. 2. To Weight or Not to Weight? That is the question … What type of ADDITIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES do students with these characteristics need (i.e., what do we expect schools to do with the extra dollars)? Is this characteristic both SUFFICIENT AND UNIQUE within the district’s overall population to merit weighting? Does the district have the ability to TRACK AND PROJECT ENROLLMENTS for this characteristic? Does this student characteristic CORRELATE WITH ANY OTHER CHARACTERISTIC such that we might be double-weighting? Are we supporting a DISTRICT PRIORITY by deciding to weight this student characteristic? 12
  13. 13. Here's the universe of characteristics that other districts have weighted under WSF: Academic: High-Performers Grade-level Poverty School Type Mobility Academic: Low- Performers ELL Special Ed Are there other characteristics? 13
  14. 14. But districts weight only the characteristics that make sense given their academic strategy and context ff Baltimore Cincinnati Denver Hartford Houston NYC Oakland SF Seattle Foundation Amount Grade Perf-High Perf-Low Poverty SPED ELL Other 14
  15. 15. 1. Does the district believe that additional resources are required to appropriately serve this student characteristic? • What type of additional support services do students with these characteristics need?  Extra instructional support?  Extra socio-emotional support?  Other types of support? Low-income students may need both additional For example: Poverty (FRL) students instructional and social-emotional support to achieve at the same level as their peers Education Resource Strategies 15
  16. 16. 2. Is this student characteristic sufficient and unique within the district‟s overall population to merit weighting? • Are there a sufficient number of students with this characteristic in the district such that it makes sense to weight them? • Is this student characteristic so pervasive across the district such that almost all students would be weighted? Many top urban districts are 90%+ FRL - almost all students would be eligible for this weight – it For example: Poverty (FRL) students may make more sense to build the additional support into the base weight for all students 16
  17. 17. 3. Does the district have the ability to track and project enrollments for this student characteristic? • Since WSF budgets are developed in the spring preceding the school year, the district can only weight characteristics for which it can reasonably track and predict accurate enrollments • Otherwise, doing mid-year adjustments will be a painful process for schools Most districts should be able to reasonably For example: Poverty (FRL) students track and project FRL status based on historical enrollment and demographic shifts 17
  18. 18. 4. Does this student characteristic correlate with any other characteristic such that we might be double-weighting? • Weights are additive (i.e., students receive all the weights that they are eligible for) • So if a student is already receiving additional support for being X, do they need more resources for being Y? • Or do those characteristics have different needs that require different resources? Some research indicate that there may be strong correlation between FRL status and low For example: Poverty (FRL) students academic performance, particularly at the elementary school grade levels 18
  19. 19. 5. Are we supporting a district priority by weighting this student characteristic? • Since the district has a limited amount of funding, the more characteristics it chooses to weight, the fewer $s will be available for each weight • So the district should only be weighting student characteristics that reflect a current district academic strategy and priority For example: Poverty (FRL) students Is supporting low-income students a specific district academic strategy and priority? 19
  20. 20. For example: District X was considering adding a grade weight for students in K-3 and G7-9 and wanted to know the impact … Grade Weight of No Grade Weight $750/pp for K-3, 7-9 SPED SPED $20m $20m ELL ELL $5m $5m Grade Base Weight Base Weight $15m $127m $114m => $5,000/pp => $4,500/pp 20
  21. 21. … in other words, if you weight certain grades because you believe they need add'l services, you are implicitly saying that other grades need fewer services No Everyone gets the same $5,000/pp Grade K 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Weight K 1 2 3 7 8 9 Grade Weight These grades now get $5,250/pp of $750/pp for K-3, These grades now get $4,500/pp 7-9 4 5 6 10 11 12 21
  22. 22. When thinking about how much to weight characteristics in the WSF formula – the questions to ask are: How much does the district currently spend to serve this characteristic? How much would the district “ideally” want to spend? Current Range of the Possible Weights Ideal Program Spending Design Is this weight based on RESEARCH-DRIVEN best practices? Does this weight make sense from an EQUITY stand-point? What are the POLITICAL/COMMUNITY IMPLICATIONS of this weight? Final Weight 22
  23. 23. As we all know, the “devil is in the details” when it comes to implementing WSF Districts with WSF make very different decisions when it comes to designing their WSF systems and developing their WSF formulas 23
  24. 24. But for WSF to work well, all districts must address the following three issues: AUTONOMY District policies and practices are Strategic Use of changed to permit school leaders to School-Level use resources strategically Resources CAPACITY Central office provides training and Capacity support to help school leaders use resources strategically ACCOUNTABILITY School leaders are held accountable for student-outcomes and fiscal responsibility in return for increased control 24
  25. 25. Education Resource Strategies (ERS) is a non-profit organization that works closely with leaders of urban public school systems to rethink the use of district and school-level resources, supporting strategies for improved instruction and performance. Visit us at www.erstrategies.org RETHINKING RESOURCES FOR STUDENT SUCCESS Weighted Student Funding (WSF)