a prototypical delivery system had to be designed, the characteristics of district and pupil variation had to be taken into account, and cost adjustments of all kinds had to be undertaken. In other state situations, solutions may be different depending upon state characteristics. These solutions will almost inevitably be more complex in more diversified states. We contend, nevertheless, that the dimensions on which solutions are sought are likely to be similar to the dimensions pursued in Wyoming.

Unsolved Mysteries

Attempting to define an "adequate' education and thereafter to translate such a definition into the reality of school finance has begun. No doubt, the beginning efforts described in the above sections of this chapter will appear unusually crude to twenty-first century education and finance experts who plow this ground. However, a contemporary decisionmaker, be it a judge or elected official, should understand fully that this translation is still a primitive endeavor, still far more of an art than a science. We do not yet have full consensus on the objectives of the education system, and in the unlikely event we ever do, we do not know how to measure our progress toward those objectives with complete precision. Further yet, we are unsure of a foolproof technology that will enable a school to instruct in a manner which will result in a guarantee of desired student performance. Finally, we are woefully short of the data regarding spending which will enable us accurately to assign costs to whatever instructional models emerge as sensible.

While most Americans agree that public schools should provide students with knowledge and skills, our understanding of educational technology is undeveloped when it comes to linking necessary resource inputs to desired outcomes. Consider these issues, touched on very briefly in previous pages, to which we presently have few satisfying answers:

  • Defining adequacy must entail specifying resource levels minimally necessary to produce desired outcomes, not a level that wastes resources unneeded for this production. Yet even if we could determine resource levels that generally produce adequate outcomes, this level may be too generous if the resources are utilized inefficiently. For example, recent results from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) reveal that American 4th graders perform, on average, at least as well, if not better than 4th graders in most comparable nations. The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) confirmed in 1991 that American 9-year-olds read better than 9-year-olds almost anywhere in the world. But, according to the TIMSS, American 8th and 12th graders perform increasingly worse than their counterparts in math, and the IEA shows that American 17-year-olds' reading is also not up to par. Is this condition because, on average, we provide adequate resources to teach math and reading to 4th graders, but the resources for later grades are


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