either statistical or empirical inference from actual measured outcomes. The components of such a system can then be identified and costs assigned to them. While, at first glance, such an approach may seem unscientific, the approximations inherent in professional judgment may be no less precise than those embedded, though more hidden, in statistical or empirical methods. It is possible that professional judgment, if carefully exercised, may be better able to adjust for the vast multitude of factors involved than is a statistical or empirical approach.

A school finance system in which the state funded, or guaranteed funding, for a defined set of resources in each district (including class sizes, teacher salary levels, a specific number of administrators and clerical staff, etc.) was once common, particularly in southern states (Augenblick and Myers, 1994). It is no longer widely used, however, and this system predated a concern to link these resource models to a notion of "adequacy." The notion of input adequacy, however, was implicit in these systems. Once adequacy became an explicit concern, a professional judgment approach was developed by Jay Chambers and Thomas Parrish in proposals they made for funding adequate education systems in Illinois in 1992 and in Alaska two years later (Chambers and Parrish, 1994). Because they recognized that no precise technology exists for linking resources to outcomes in education, they declined to term their goal "adequate," using the term "appropriate" instead. Calling their method the resource cost model (RCM), Chambers and Parrish convened committees of teachers, administrators, and public officials to deliberate and determine what resources were necessary to deliver an appropriate education. They toured facilities across the states and met with local educators and policy makers. In Illinois, for example, they concluded that teacher staffing resources should be provided so that a regular grade 1–3 class should have 22 pupils; that a speech therapist should have a caseload of 62 pupils; and that school buildings insulated to a proper standard should have resources to purchase energy to maintain a year-round building temperature of 70 degrees.

The charge of these committees was not entirely to specify the resources of an appropriate education, because they were also told they must "keep a balance between the resources they would like to see specified for each educational program and what they believed to be affordable" (Chambers and Parrish, 1994:53) given the states' fiscal and political realities. Operating under these guidelines, the process resulted in a recommendation for an appropriate funding level that was 2 percent greater than present total funding in Illinois, and 16 percent greater than present total funding in Alaska. However, the Chambers-Parrish specifications of appropriateness, developed through this process, would have required substantial redistribution of resources from district to district within these states.

Having specified an appropriate level of resources by this consultative process, employing professional judgment, Chambers and Parrish utilized a statistical analysis to estimate the costs and the within-state cost differences of providing these resources. The result, however, was that "policy makers [in both states] tended to find the overall system somewhat incomprehensible and complex"



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement