At this time of budget shortfalls, when education dollars must yield maximum returns in student outcomes, states are perpetuating policies that constrain districts and tie up money badly needed elsewhere. A new report from Education Resource Strategies stresses that funding adequacy and equity must remain a priority, but there are a number of steps that states can take to ensure limited resources are used as effectively as possible. The current moment of combined reform and financial pressure can be leveraged to set policies and promote action that will create change at the local level. State policymakers can therefore make a big difference by revising how schools organize personnel and time, how districts and schools spend special education dollars, how districts allocate resources to schools and students, and what information districts gather on resources and spending. For instance, more than 80 percent of school operating expenditures pay for compensation, most of it teacher compensation. The report recommends that states eliminate class size requirements and mandated staffing ratios, and replace these with a set of accountability measures that ensure student needs are met. States should also tie teacher compensation to factors more relevant to effectiveness, contribution, and job responsibilities and ease tenure and dismissal requirements. The report issues recommendations for each area of potential change.
You can find the full state primer here.