A problem with this approach is its suggestion that the identified instructional components and mixes are highly desirable. A local school district deviating from such resource norms would be at risk, unless it produced higher-than-expected student academic achievement. A revenue distribution program that funds specific instructional components, whether derived empirically, as in the 1995 Ohio study, or through professional judgment, as we describe (below) for Wyoming, can restrict local school district discretion and, thus, initiative. Because a state identifies a collection of resources as adequate, and funds that collection, it does not mean that districts should be prevented from organizing resources and instructional delivery differently to achieve the same objective. There is an inherent tension between the state's interest in guaranteeing to each school district an adequate level of resources, and the state's interest in assuring that local initiative, creativity and sense of control are mobilized to deliver those resources.

These criticisms were leveled against the 1995 Augenblick et al. report. In response, Augenblick's 1997 report revised the earlier approach by eliminating any empirical observation of school inputs, only observing the average per-pupil spending level that was correlated with acceptable outcomes. In addition, and in response to other criticism, the more recent report abandons a norm-referenced outcome measure (the 70th percentile of the statewide district achievement distribution) and adopts a criterion-referenced measure (percent passage of minimum competency levels).

Augenblick, therefore, now identifies 102 (out of 607) Ohio school districts whose students meet 17 of 18 performance thresholds, or output criteria (outlier high and low property wealth and/or highand low-spending districts were again eliminated from consideration). In addition to a dropout rate of 3 percent or less and an attendance rate of at least 93 percent, the remaining 16 criteria consist of specified passage rates on the state's minimum proficiency tests. (For example, four of the criteria are passage rates of 75 percent on the 4th-grade proficiency tests in reading, mathematics, writing, and citizenship, and another four are passage rates of 60 percent on the comparable 12th-grade proficiency tests.) Once having identified a pool of districts which did not exhibit extremes of wealth or spending and in which students had met these state measured performance criteria, Augenblick constructed a weighted per-pupil revenue amount from among eligible district expenditure patterns. The per-pupil dollar amount derived from this process was $3,930, based on 1996 Ohio spending levels (Augenblick, 1997). This, then, is the Augenblick definition of "adequacy" for Ohio school districts (before additional resources are added for students with special needs and other factors).

A similar approach was used by Illinois Governor James Edgar's Commission on Education Funding in 1996 to estimate the cost of the foundation of an adequate education. The Commission retained Fordham University Professor Bruce Cooper, acting on behalf of the Coopers & Lybrand accounting firm, to

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement