How Do Policymakers Select a Model?

Given the nationwide accountability focus, policymakers will increasingly be forced to examine what constitutes an adequate education, what it costs to fund an adequate education for every child, and how to allocate resources to enhance student achievement. Because adequacy as a standard in school finance is still evolving, policymakers will face technical challenges in determining how much an adequate education costs-for an ÔaverageÕ child and for children with special needs or from disadvantaged backgrounds-and in effectively allocating resources. None of the four approaches discussed predominates (Odden, 2003), but no matter which approach is used, the likely outcome will be increased spending for education. Each approach leads to somewhat different results, and each is modified somewhat for each new study based on what researchers learn in the earlier studies. As a result, it is unlikely that any one of these will provide a ÔdefinitiveÕ answer. Rather, state policymakers should consider conducting multiple studies before settling on a new foundation level of funding for schools.

Next Page: Implementing and Evaluating the Adequacy Model

Published in Insights on Educational Policy, Practice, and Research Number 16, March 2004, School Finance Adequacy: The State Role