Weighted Student Funding Overview


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This presentation was given to the Boston City Council on May 7 as part of a presentation on Boston Public Schools' weighted student funding status.

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Weighted Student Funding Overview

  1. 1. Weighted Student Funding Overview Boston Public Schools Budget HearingRethinking Resourcesfor Student Success May 8, 2012
  2. 2. Education Resource Strategies (ERS)is a non-profit organization that hasworked closely with multiple largedistricts across the country (includingRochester, Baltimore, and Boston) thathave implemented or are in the processof implementing WSF. This is part ofbroader work with leaders of urbanpublic school systems to rethink the useof district and school-levelresources, supporting strategies forimproved instruction and performance.Visit us at www.erstrategies.org RETHINKING RESOURCES FOR STUDENT SUCCESS Weighted Student Funding (WSF)
  3. 3. Why do districts decide to implement WSF? • EQUITY: Students are funded equitably regardless of which school they attend. • TRANSPARENCY: A WSF formula makes it clear to all relevant stakeholders how much money schools receive and how the allocation process works. • 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. Education Resource Strategies 3
  4. 4. Here are a few important terms that are often used when discussing the WSF formulaWSF Formula: The formula that the district will use to allocate out the WSF Pool toschools – 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. Examples include: GRADE-LEVEL PERFORMANCE (HIGH and LOW) SPECIAL EDUCATION ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS MOBILITY SCHOOL TYPE Education Resource Strategies 4
  5. 5. Two of the most important decisions that districts make indeveloping their WSF system are: 1 What resources are “unlocked” under WSF – a.k.a., Where will budgetary control be given to schools? 2 What student characteristics will the WSF formula weight? And how much should the weights be? Education Resource Strategies 5
  6. 6. 1. When should a resource be unlocked?  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? Education Resource Strategies 6
  7. 7. 2. Which weights should be used? • 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? Education Resource Strategies 7
  8. 8. Districts choose to weight characteristics that make sensegiven their academic strategy and context ff Boston Baltimore Cincinnati* Denver Hartford Houston NYC Oakland SF Seattle* Foundation Amount Grade Perf-High Perf-Low Poverty SPED ELL Other * Note: WSF currently suspended due to declining revenue Education Resource Strategies 8
  9. 9. 1. Does the district believe that additional resources arerequired 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 additionalFor example: Poverty (FRL) students instructional and social-emotional support to achieve at the same level as their peers Education Resource Strategies 9
  10. 10. 2. Is this student characteristic sufficient and unique within thedistrict’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? Some urban districts are 90%+ FRL - almost all students would be eligible for this weight – itFor example: Poverty (FRL) students may make more sense to build the additional support into the base weight for all students Education Resource Strategies 10
  11. 11. 3. Does the district have the ability to track and projectenrollments 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 reasonablyFor example: Poverty (FRL) students track and project FRL status based on historical enrollment and demographic shifts Education Resource Strategies 11
  12. 12. 4. Does this student characteristic correlate with any othercharacteristic 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 lowFor example: Poverty (FRL) students academic performance, particularly at the elementary school grade levels Education Resource Strategies 12
  13. 13. When thinking about how much to weight characteristics inthe 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? Final Weight Education Resource Strategies 13
  14. 14. Districts with WSF make very different decisions when it comes todesigning their WSF systems and developing their WSF formulas, but forWSF 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 Education Resource Strategies 14