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Making Money Matter: Financing America's Schools
(Chambers and Parrish, 1994:72). The RCM was not therefore ultimately adopted as a basis for policy in these states.
More recently, a consulting group led by James W. Guthrie utilized a professional judgment approach relying on both consultation with local experts (as did Chambers and Parrish) and reliance on research and whole-school design models (see next section) to calculate an adequate level of resources to be distributed to Wyoming school districts (Guthrie et al., 1997). The Wyoming approach differed from the earlier work of Chambers and Parrish in four important respects.
First, Guthrie et al. had been retained by the state legislature to design a system to fulfill a mandate of the Wyoming Supreme Court in Campbell v. Wyoming, 907 P.2d 1238 (Wyo. 1995). The court prohibited the legislature from considering the total cost of a new education funding system, requiring that the "best" (i.e., adequate) system be funded regardless of cost: "lack of financial resources will not be an acceptable reason for failure to provide the best education system." Therefore, unlike the Alaska and Illinois experts for the RCM, the Wyoming professional expert groups were not asked to balance adequacy against total costs in making their recommendations.
Second, in defining adequacy, Guthrie et al. consulted with professional expert groups in Wyoming and nationally but did not rely exclusively on the opinions of practitioners. Rather, these opinions were used to inform the consultants' views, based on national research and prior experience, regarding the resource elements necessary to produce adequate outcomes.
Third, learning from the Illinois and Alaska experiences, Guthrie et al. did not use a complex statistical method (regression models) to calculate resource costs or cost adjustments, believing that they would be unlikely to be able to explain how these calculations were made in a manner that would be understood and accepted by policy makers, educators, and citizens. Rather, less sophisticated but more easily understandable methods, still based on economic theory, were employed.
Fourth, because the Wyoming legislature was ordered by the court to come forth with recommendations for adequacy on very short notice, Guthrie et al. calculated the costs only of the main elements of an adequate education, using less precise methods to estimate other costs. (For example, the cost of utilities was calculated by taking the average cost of Wyoming districts in the prior year, with no attempt to specify resources necessary to reach a target temperature for classrooms when controlled for building insulation standards.)
In this case, the professional judgment approach was used not only because of concerns about poorly specified outcome measures in education generally, but because the state of Wyoming did not utilize a standardized achievement test like that in Ohio, Illinois, Mississippi, or Texas, even for narrowly defined academic outcomes, and so even poorly specified outcome data were not available. In many states without adequate assessments, the professional judgment and whole-school design methods may be the only alternatives available, without resorting