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School Funding for Students in Poverty. Sarah Burks Arkansas Political Science Association Conference February 28, 2014. Outline. Introduction to Poverty Funding Allocation of Funding Other States Arkansas Use of Funding Our Recommendations. School Funding.

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school funding for students in poverty

School Funding for Students in Poverty

Sarah Burks

Arkansas Political Science Association Conference

February 28, 2014

  • Introduction to Poverty Funding
  • Allocation of Funding
    • Other States
    • Arkansas
  • Use of Funding
  • Our Recommendations
school funding
School Funding
  • Since the 1970s, at least 45 states have had school funding court cases.
    • Serrano (1971): California school funding case
vertical equity funding
Vertical Equity Funding
  • States recognize that schools/districts need additional funding to offset the costs necessary to educate certain students.
    • Including: English Language Learners; low-income students; etc
  • Students in poverty face challenges that may require additional funding.
    • For example, districts may institute summer school, hire additional school counselors and tutors, etc.
  • Schools/districts with high concentrations of poverty face particular challenges that require additional funding. (Kahlenberg)
  • NAEP: “The Nation’s Report Card”
    • Best ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison of students across the nation.
  • Low-income (FRL) students consistently perform less well than non-FRL students.

4th Grade Reading

8th Grade Reading

poverty funding
Poverty Funding
  • Majority of states provide additional funding for students in poverty.
    • Typically measured by % of free and reduced lunch students (FRL) or by census poverty data
  • States vary in the methods used to allocate additional funding.
    • Weighted method: incorporates increased weights per low-income pupil to the foundation base.
      • Federal Title I grants use 0.40 as the standard additional weight for FRL students.
    • Categorical grant method: provides a flat/weighted grant per pupil separate from the foundation base.
poverty funding in other states
Poverty Funding in Other States

*Not comprehensive

States place different weights on low-income students.

Source: Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research

poverty funding in illinois
Poverty Funding in Illinois
  • Provides additional funding to districts per pupil in poverty
  • Accounts for concentration of poverty in districts through an exponential function
poverty funding in minnesota
Poverty Funding in Minnesota
  • Similar to Illinois’ model:
    • Provides additional funding to districts per pupil in poverty
    • Accounts for concentration of poverty in districts through an exponential function
  • Assigns different weights to free lunch students vs. reduced lunch students in an attempt to better account for poverty
    • Free lunch students accounts for two times a reduced lunch student.
poverty funding in arkansas
Poverty Funding in Arkansas
  • Public School Funding Act of 2003
    • In response to the Lake View Decision, Arkansas reconfigured school funding formulas.
  • Categorical Funding
    • Not incorporated into the foundation base
    • Allocated to districts per pupil:
      • English Language Learners; Alternative Learning Environment students; Free and reduced lunch students
poverty funding in arkansas nsla
Poverty Funding in Arkansas (NSLA)
  • National School Lunch Act (NSLA)
    • Allocates additional funding per FRL pupil
    • Amount per FRL pupil dependent upon the concentration of poverty in the district
    • Allocations accounts for growth/decline
achievement by frl
Achievement by %FRL

Benchmark Literacy Achievement (GPA Measure), By % FRL

Benchmark Math Achievement (GPA Measure), By % FRL

evaluation of arkansas system
Evaluation of Arkansas’ System
  • The system does provide additional funding for students in poverty and accounts for high concentrations of poverty.
  • However, the tiered system creates arbitrary cutoffs such that districts with very similar demographics are treated differently in the funding system.
    • For example, a district with 69% FRL receives less funding per FRL pupil than a district with 70% FRL; however, student bodies with 69% and 70% FRL look relatively similar.
  • This discontinuous break in the funding system allows us to compare the academic achievement of districts around the 70% and 90% “cliffs.”
    • Based on the comparisons of these schools around the “cliffs”, we cannot claim justification for the discontinuous 70% and 90% “cliffs.” (See following slide.)
evaluation of arkansas system 1
Evaluation of Arkansas’ System

Achievement Comparisons at the 70% “Cliff”

Benchmark Literacy GPA, 2007-08 to 2012-13

Benchmark Math GPA, 2007-08 to 2012-13

  • On the math and literacy benchmark exams, the districts just above and below the cliff (thus, districts who are socio-economically “equal”) perform nearly identically.
evaluation of arkansas system 2
Evaluation of Arkansas’ System
  • It is important to note that we do not have the counterfactual to examine how districts would perform without poverty funding.
  • Nevertheless, we do know that:
    • Most agree that additional resources should be provided to schools with higher concentrations of poverty (to help students overcome additional challenges associated poverty).
    • No “silver bullets”: no research indicates exact funding is needed to create equal opportunities for poor students.
  • Next, we examine how districts spend the money.
poverty funding regulations
Poverty Funding Regulations
  • States vary in how school funding (and poverty funding) is regulated.
    • Some states provide districts with more autonomy in spending.
    • Other states prescribe certain uses for poverty funding, so that funds are targeted to students/programs.
  • Arkansas regulates poverty funding by limiting the usage to certain categories.
nsla expenditures
NSLA Expenditures

Shaded box denotes a coded use originally set in 2003.

nsla expenditures 1
NSLA Expenditures
  • The majority of districts distribute funding among 8 or more expenditure codes.
    • Districts seldom focus the money in one or two specific areas.
  • It is unclear as to whether all districts are specifically pinpointing the funding towards students in poverty (or schools serving these students).
    • For example, a district may spend a large portion of funding on Highly Qualified teachers or Specialists – these teachers may or may not work specifically with the low-income students.
  • Furthermore, districts do not use all the funding – many have balances at the end of the year.
evaluation of arkansas system 3
Evaluation of Arkansas’ System
  • Arguments for prescriptive use:
    • There is a current lack of focus of funds.
    • Funds should pinpoint only to students in poverty.
    • Use funding in a prescriptive manner as a way to figure out what works
  • Arguments against prescriptive use:
    • Flexibility is necessary: State-wide policies may not fit for all.
    • What do you prescribe? Research isn’t conclusive on what works best
our recommendations
Our Recommendations
  • Distribution of Poverty Funding
    • Progressive system: “Smooth sliding” scale to replace the current tiered system
    • Distribute more funding for districts with higher concentrations of FRL students
    • Weighting the funding to differentiate between poverty levels by factoring in the difference between “free” and “reduced” lunch students
our recommendations 1
Our Recommendations
  • Progressive system: “Smooth” sliding scale
  • Weighted to account for differences in “free” and “reduced”
    • Weights are 75% for Reduced-Lunch Students and 100% for Free-Lunch Students.
our recommendations 2
Our Recommendations
  • Regulations on spending: More or less prescriptive?
    • Some argue flexibility is needed: perhaps offer this to districts that are succeeding with poor students.
    • For those still not meeting the needs of poor kids, develop a “menu” of promising programs targeted to poor students. (This will help ADE learn more about effectiveness.)

Alternative Certification

The Effectiveness of Teacher from Rigorous Programs on Math & Literacy Achievement: A Systematic Review

Panelist: Benton M. Brown

Co-Authors: Alexandra Boyd, Sarah Burks, and Alexandra Vasile

outline 1
  • Research Question
  • Purpose
  • Background Information
  • Review Methodology
    • Search Yield
    • Study Characteristics
    • Meta-analysis
  • Results
  • Discussion
    • Limitations
    • Implications for Policy & Practice
research question
Research Question

Does having an alternatively certified teacher from a rigorous program lead to better outcomes in math and literacy?

  • Add to and synthesize the literature
    • To our knowledge, there is no systematic review that compiles all of the studies on the effectiveness of rigorous alternative certification programs.
    • Main studies primarily quoted: 2004 Mathematica Study, CREDO and Darling-Hammond Studies
    • Need for a compiled completelist that is unbiased
  • Policy and practice implications
    • Alternative certification is growing in Arkansas and across the nation
background information
Background Information

Common Alternative Certification ("Alt. Cert.") definition:

  • To receive a license to teach in K-12 without completing the traditional process of teacher licensure (B.A. in Education or M.A. in Teaching with student teaching experience).

There are many different methods to gain an alternative certification. Programs are offered by:

  • Universities
  • States' Department of Education
  • Private organizations
background information 1
Background Information

Areas of research on alternative certification:

  • Effectiveness of alt. cert. teachers
    • Compared to traditional teachers and novice teachers
    • Compared to other alt. cert. programs
  • Training systems
  • Preparedness of teachers
  • Perceptions of alt. cert. teachers
background information 2
Background Information
  • Focus of our study:
    • Effectiveness of alternatively certified teachers from a rigorous program
  • Rigorous alternative certification program:
    • One that recruits, selects, and trains teachers
    • Distinguished from other programs based on the selectivity of the program
    • NOT based on length of training or other training components
review methodology
Review Methodology
  • Search Sources
    • Google Scholar
    • ProQuest
    • JStor
    • NBER
    • EBSCO
  • Inclusion Criteria
    • Focuses on a particular rigorous alternative teacher certification program
    • Includes one or more of the following outcomes: math, reading, or ELA (CRT or NRT)
    • Based on a rigorous research design: RCT or QED (matching with baseline equivalence)
    • Counterfactual: Compares alt cert teachers with teachers already in the classroom and/or novice teachers
    • 1990 and after
review methodology 2
Review Methodology
  • Articles eliminated during abstract stage due to:
    • Non-rigorous alt. cert. program
    • Unspecified alt. cert. program
    • Improper outcomes (e.g. lack of quantitative outcomes)
    • Non-rigorous research design/methods
    • Improper counterfactual to alt. cert. teachers
  • Articles eliminated during coding stage due to:
    • Non-rigorous research methods
    • Improper outcomes (e.g. lack of quantitative outcomes)
    • Improper counterfactual to alt. cert. teachers

*Studies with multiple counterfactuals or outcomes were double-counted

results 1

*Significant at 10%; ** significant at 5%; *** significant at 1% or less

  • Complications in Data Analysis
    • Studies on the same dataset looking at same outcomes
    • Different models or tests within each study - with somewhat different results
    • Difficulty in separating effect size for outcome of interest: Xu et al. (2009)
discussion 1
  • Implications for Policy and Practice
    • Alternative certification should be supported as a fast-track way to certification
      • Rigorous programs
    • Alt. Cert. Teachers provide districts a viable way to fill teacher vacancies
    • Districts, state departments of education, and legislatures should be open to rigorous alternative certification teachers and programs
discussion 2

Contact Info:

Benton M. Brown

University of Arkansas


charter authorizers in arkansas

Charter Authorizers in Arkansas

Jennifer Ash

February 28, 2014

presentation outline
Presentation Outline
  • Introduction to Charter Schools and Authorizers
  • National Snapshot
  • Single vs. Multiple Authorizers
  • Charter School Authorizing in Arkansas
  • Policy Recommendations
  • Conclusion
charter schools
Charter Schools
  • Open-enrollment charter schools
  • Debate has largely shifted from whether or not to have charters is over to how to ensure high quality charters
charter authorizer responsibilities
Charter Authorizer Responsibilities
  • Responsibilities
    • Review applications
    • Grant “charters”

*Many authorizers consider this most important step of process. Quality control on front-end (Zimmer, et al. 2012)

    • Ensure compliance
      • Financial audits, academic reports, site visits, etc.
    • Renew contracts (or not)
national snapshot
National Snapshot
  • 42 states and the District of Columbia have enacted charter school laws.
  • Of these 42, 14 states have one charter authorizer, while the majority of states have more than one charter authorizing entity.
national snapshot 1
National Snapshot

Six main types of Charter Authorizers

national snapshot 2
National Snapshot

Charter School Authorizers in Arkansas’ Neighboring States, 2013

arguments for single authorizer
Arguments for Single Authorizer
  • Economies of scale
    • Can spread administrative costs without losing quality
    • Bigger authorizers

(authorizers overseeing

more charters) may do


  • AR is a small state
arguments for multiple authorizers
Arguments for Multiple Authorizers
  • Shen (2011)
    • “Competition among several authorities can lead to more rigorous oversight…” (p. 4)
  • Center for Education Reform (2011)
    • Multiple authorizers provide several routes to getting a charter
      • Less subject to politics and pressures from traditional education groups
    • States with multiple authorizers have more charter schools
evidence on different types of authorizers
Evidence on Different Types of Authorizers

Within State Analyses

  • Minnesota: no difference between authorizer types on charter quality (Carlson, Lavery, Witte 2012)
  • Ohio:
    • Authorizer types: public school districts, county-based educational service centers, nonprofits
    • Some evidence that NPO authorizers are less effective (Zimmer, et al. 2012)
charter school authorizing in ar
Charter School Authorizing in AR

1995: Law passed to allow existing schools to transition to become a charter school (district-conversion schools

1999: Law passed to allow open-enrollment schools.

-SBE as charter authorizer

-Cap for open-enrollment charter schools; later removed and replaced with a “rolling cap”

-cap increases by 5 every time number of charters is within 2 of the cap

-Each charter granted for a five-year period, then can be reauthorized

charter school authorizing in ar 1
Charter School Authorizing in AR
  • 2013 Legislative Session: Several proposals for change in charter authorizer
  • Motivation: Charter hearings were monopolizing a great deal of the State Board of Ed.’s time
  • HB1040- 5 person commission: Governor, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Speaker of the House, and chairs of the House and Senate Committees on Education.
    • Questions over whether would be impartial
  • HB1528- 5 to 11 member board within Arkansas Department of Education
  • Under law proposed, SBE will only play a role if a party appeals the charter authorizing panel’s decision AND SBE agrees to hear the appeal
charter school authorizing in ar 2
Charter School Authorizing in AR
  • 2013 General Assembly, Act 509 was passed to change Arkansas’ charter authorizer from the State Board of Education to a panel within the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE).
  • The 5 to 11 person panel was appointed by the Commissioner of Education, Dr. Tom Kimbrell.
  • Main tasks of the panel:
    • Review applications
    • Grant charters
    • Oversee compliance of charter
    • Renew/terminate contracts
charter school authorizing in ar 3
Charter School Authorizing in AR

First Charter Authorizing Panel

November 2013

  • 7 proposals for open-enrollment charter
  • 2 were approved
  • 3 were denied
  • 2 were tabled (then later denied)
charter school authorizing in ar 4
Charter School Authorizing in AR

Charter Authorizing Panel’s (implicit) priorities

  • Detailed Plan
  • Innovation
  • Need/Parental Demand
  •  It appears that the Panel members viewed proposals more favorably if the applicants were able to:
  • Clearly articulate curricular plans, operational details, and potential student body;
  • Show that the school would offer an innovative model that is not currently available; and/or
  • Demonstrate a compelling need in the community for an alternative to the traditional system, ideally by bringing actual parents who are seeking alternative schooling options
charter school authorizing in ar 5
Charter School Authorizing in AR
  • Appeal Process
    • SBE agreed to review two appeals and denied them both.
    • SBE made conscious decision not to start the precedent of reversing Charter Authorizing Panel’s decisions

It takes time to create procedures for new systems. We expect that answers to questions that have come up in this first year of implementation will become clearer with time.

policy recommendation 1 allow for more time between charter school approval and opening
Policy Recommendation 1: Allow for more time between charter school approval and opening

Timeline for Open-Enrollment Charter School Approval, 2013

charter school opening timeline comparisons
Charter School Opening Timeline Comparisons


  • Must determine many details prior to approval including location, finance plans, curriculum plans, 5-year staffing and enrollment plan

District of Columbia

  • Allows a year between authorization and opening


  • Approved schools can choose to open in 6 months or wait an additional year (18 months) to open
policy recommendation 2 review meaningful evidence for renewal of charters
Policy Recommendation 2:Review Meaningful Evidence for Renewal of Charters
  • Academic Indicators
    • Matched twin analysis
  • Other Indicators/Goals Beside Test Scores
    • Academics Plus- accountability for transportation
    • Parental satisfaction
  • Authorizer structure in AR unlikely to change anytime soon
  • Charter Authorizing Panel still determining role and priorities


  • Option for more time between authorization and opening
  • More and better information for renewing charters
k 12 school vouchers as an education solution

K-12 School Vouchers as an Education Solution

Michael Crouch

Arkansas Political Science Association Conference

February 28, 2014

outline 2
  • Introduction to School Vouchers
  • The Issue at Hand
    • History of School Choice, School Vouchers
    • Legislation in Arkansas
  • Educational Impacts
  • Benefits, Concerns, and Financial Impacts
  • What to Look For
introduction to school vouchers
Introduction to School Vouchers
  • What is a School Voucher?
    • School Vouchers work as a means of paying a student’s tuition at the school of choice for parents and that student.
    • As opposed to traditional funding mechanisms, this payment structure is meant to free the educational consumer to choose a best option for their educational purpose.
the issue at hand
The Issue at Hand
  • History of School Vouchers
    • School Vouchers finds its intellectual roots in the work of Milton Friedman in the 1950s
    • Local, private school vouchers are hard to date or point to an origin
    • First modern program: Milwaukee, 1990
    • Expanded to 16 programs serving 80+ thousand students
the issue at hand 1
The Issue at Hand
  • 16 Programs, some listed below:
the issue at hand 2
The Issue at Hand
  • Legislation in Arkansas
    • HB 1197
    • Tax Credit Program
    • Non-Profit Organization
    • $10 million per year, 2,500 scholarships, $4,000 each
the issue at hand 3
The Issue at Hand
  • Legislation in Arkansas
    • SB 577 (Sen. Jane English)
    • Tax Credit Program
    • Non-Profit Organization
    • $10 million per year, 2,500 scholarships, $4,000 each
    • Cost? Net Positive or Net Negative?
the issue at hand 4
The Issue at Hand
  • Current Market Composition
    • 190-207 Private Schools; 29,962 students
    • 24% Minority Enrollment
    • Average Tuition: $4,669
    • Minimum: $415; Maximum: $21,250
    • Highest in NW and Central Arkansas Regions
educational impacts
Educational Impacts
  • What the studies have shown:
benefits concerns and financial impacts
Benefits, Concerns, and Financial Impacts
  • Benefits
    • Civic Engagement/Values
    • Educational Outcomes?
  • Concerns
    • Private School Pricing/Integration
    • Educational Outcomes?
    • Religious Integration
    • Selection Issues, Scale
benefits concerns and financial impacts 1
Benefits, Concerns, and Financial Impacts
  • Financial Impacts
    • Net Gains: Students/Families who qualify; State Budget; Tax Credit Recipients
    • Net Losses: Total Budget of School Districts
    • Net Neutral: Per Pupil Budget of School Districts
    • $7,000 is break-even point for state
    • <$7,000 is cost saving for states
benefits concerns and financial impacts 2
Benefits, Concerns, and Financial Impacts
  • Participation at Price Points, Missouri (Schuls)
benefits concerns and financial impacts 3
Benefits, Concerns, and Financial Impacts
  • Seats at Price Points, Missouri (Schuls)
benefits concerns and financial impacts 4
Benefits, Concerns, and Financial Impacts
  • Reasons to Not Participate, Missouri (Schuls)
what to look for
What to Look For
  • Impact Groups
    • Who are the groups this bill is intended to help?
  • Accountability
    • How do we measure the ROI?
    • Nondiscrimination, Health, Background, Financials, Independent Evaluations
  • Restrictions on Program
    • What type of schools qualify?
    • State Restrictions?