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Reporting for Equity: Financial Transparency Guide

How states and districts can use the ESSA school spending requirements to present data that matters

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The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires all states to report school-level spending data. Until now, states have not typically made this data easily available to the public. As states release new spending data, it will be possible for a variety of stakeholders to assess whether spending levels are equitable across schools—but only if that spending data is presented in the right ways.

ERS has joined with The Education Trust to form the Alliance for Resource Equity, a partnership focused on uniting advocates and education leaders to unlock excellence for every student through the equitable allocation and use of resources. Together, we have developed 5 Reporting Principles to guide states and districts in sharing spending data in ways that will enable equity-focused conversations.

 Spending reports should:

  1. Provide total per-pupil spending as well as a breakdown by source and location of spending
  2. Provide contextual information to help interpret differences in spending
  3. Provide comparative data on spending and need across districts and schools
  4. Include additional information on other resources that impact students’ experiences in schools
  5. Be clear and accessible


Based on these reporting principles, ERS has developed “Reporting for Equity: How States and Districts Can Use the ESSA School Spending Requirements to Present Data that Matters” to provide guidance for state-level practitioners who will design school spending reports, as well as district leaders who want to go beyond the state report card to use spending data in more equity-focused ways.   We are sharing this guidance as a draft for feedback from leaders in the field.

We welcome any comments or questions on this draft, which can be directed to Nicole Katz. A final version of this document, as well as other resources, will be available on the Alliance for Resource Equity website in 2020.

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