Sep 15

Study shows inequitable funding hurts student achievement in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s school finance system “actually contributes to inequity of educational opportunity,” according to a new study from the Association for Equity in Funding.

“The quality of educational opportunity in Wisconsin now largely depends on where you live, and the relative affluence of your family and community,” the study concludes. “Further, the systemic problems indicated by this study require immediate solutions to address systemic issues of student poverty, truancy, and increasing inequity in school funding.”

The Association for Equity in Funding (AEF) is a group of Wisconsin school districts that seeks financial equity in the state system of school financing. The members include larger and urban-type districts such as Green Bay, Chippewa Falls, Appleton, Sheboygan, and Beloit, as well as smaller, more rural districts like Algoma, Cornell, Spring Valley, Kickapoo, Antigo, and Whitewater.

The new study is a follow-up to a 2014 study which concluded that the current school funding mechanism in Wisconsin is insufficient to ensure that every child in every school has the resources necessary to receive a “sound, basic education” as required by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. It also found that the systemic effects over time are creating resource deficits due to increasing rates of higher needs students which are reaching crisis levels. That study developed a “Funding Disparity Rank” for each school district in Wisconsin.

The new study sought to determine whether the school funding model and resulting disparity as measured by the “Funding Disparity Rank” has a direct impact on student performance and outcome.

It concluded that funding disparity does indeed have a negative effect on student outcome. It found:

  1. The Funding Disparity Rank interacts with student poverty rates to have a significant negative effect on student performance.
  2. In the important benchmark of 8th Grade Math scores, funding disparity was found to have a significant negative effect. School districts with higher funding disparity, as measured by our previously discussed index, saw lower test scores. This is further evidence that the Wisconsin school funding system itself is creating segregation of opportunity.

Read the entire analysis:

AEF Study Shows School Funding Has Negative Effects on Important Measures of Student Outcome