School Spending & Outcomes Snapshot: Supporting Conversations on Equity and School Improvement

The School Spending & Outcomes Snapshot allows users to view and print data visualizations to explore spending and outcomes data in order to foster thoughtful conversations to improve equity and outcomes in their school communities.

 

This tool is for:

  • District leaders
  • School leaders
  • Parents, advocates, community members
  • School board members
  • State education agencies

With these displays users can:

  • Examine spending patterns and compare spending with outcomes, to see what trends emerge
  • Start conversations at the school- and/or district-level about equitable distribution of resources, and how spending patterns are or are not related to performance
  • Consider policies or practices that can help school and district leaders leverage spending to improve outcomes

Watch  to learn more about data displays that work.

School Spending & Outcomes Snapshot

 

You may need to scroll to the right to see all schools. Some schools have been excluded. To learn more, read our Frequently Asked Questions.

Users can explore four comparison displays. Click the following buttons to learn more about what each display shows and use the "Select a comparison" dropdown in the left navigation to choose the display you would like to view.

Display 1 Display 2Display 3 Display 4

 

Questions to Explore

 

Select one of the following or dowload the full list of questions to explore.

District Leaders

Display #1

  1. Which school spends the most per student? The least?
  2. Are variations in spending aligned to student need? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think changes are needed in how the district allocates resources to schools?

Display #2

  1. Is there a school that spends less than the average but is higher performing?
  2. Is there a school that spends more than the average and higher performing?
  3. Is there a school that spends more than the average and yet is lower performing?
  4. Is there a school that spends less than the average and is lower performing?
  5. Does each of our principals know which quadrant they’re in?
  6. Does this information provide any ideas about how to manage the district’s schools?

Display #3

  1. How do your elementary schools compare to others in the state with similar poverty levels?
  2. Is one in the lower right quadrant (meaning it spends more but gets lower outcomes than similar peers)? Does the school know that it is relatively expensive and yet producing lower outcomes than peers?
  3. Is one in the upper left quadrant (meaning it is better at leveraging its dollars to do more for students than similar peers)? Does the school know that it beats the odds for its students with the money it has?

Display #4

  1. How do your high schools compare on spending and outcomes to others in the state? Do your high schools get a fair amount of money? Is there a school where the district should be making a push to improve outcomes?
School Leaders

Display #1

  1. How does your school’s spending compare to others in the district and to similar schools in the district?
  2. Does the spending seem fair? Are variations in spending aligned to student need?
  3. Do you think changes are needed in how the district allocates resources to schools?

Display #2

  1. How do your school’s outcomes compare to similar schools?
  2. How can you use this information? What would you say to your teachers/parents?
Parents, Advocates, Community Members

Display #1

  1. How does your school’s spending compare to others in the district? To similar schools in the district?
  2. What trends do you see across the district? Does anything surprise you?
  3. Does the spending seem fair? Are variations in spending aligned to student need?
  4. Do you think changes are needed in how the district allocates resources to schools?

Display #2

  1. How do your school’s outcomes compare to similar schools in the district?
  2. How, if at all, could this information help district and school leaders improve student outcomes?
  3. How could this information be used to make decisions about how the district distributes money to its schools?
School Board Members

Display #1

  1. What trends do you see across the district?
  2. Which school draws down the most per student? The least?
  3. Are variations in spending aligned to student need? Why or why not?
  4. Do you think changes are needed in how the district allocates resources to schools?

Display #2

  1. Is there a school that is higher performing and spending more than the average?
  2. Is there a school that is lower performing and spending more than the average?
  3. Are any schools “beating the odds” with the money they have? Are there any promising spending practices across types of schools?
  4. Does this information give you any ideas about how to manage your schools?
  5. To what extent, if at all, could this information be used to make or change decisions about how money gets allocated to schools in our district?

Display #3

  1. How do your elementary schools compare to others in the state with similar poverty levels?
  2. Is one in the lower right quadrant (meaning it spends more but gets lower outcomes than similar peers)?
  3. Is one in the upper left quadrant (meaning it is better at leveraging its dollars to do more for students than similar peers)?

Display #4

  1. How do your high schools compare on spending and outcomes to others in the state?
State Education Agency

The data have informal and formal application for the management and improvement of schools. Most notably, State education agencies (SEAs) could use the displays to conduct ESSA required periodic resource allocation reviews (RARs) in districts that serve low-performing schools. With these displays and this discussion protocol SEA teams can facilitate a critical conversation around data on resources and outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What does the "Median" line represent?

The median is the point where half the schools have spending/test higher and half have spending/test scores lower than that point. For the district-only scatterplot, the median line represents the median for that district. For the other two scatterplots, the median represents the median spending or proficiency for all schools in display (e.g., all high schools or elementary schools in the noted poverty quartile).

 

What does the color represent?

Color is used to show the relative level of economic disadvantage among students in a given school. The default color palette marks low poverty schools as green, middle poverty schools as yellow, and high poverty schools as red. Users can choose to view the displays in an alternate color palette or grey scale. For each state, we used the poverty metric utilized by the state, which is often free and reduced-price lunch data.

 

Where are the data sources?

The financial data is the state reported per student expenditure published on school report cards. Poverty and proficiency data are drawn from individual state data files published online except for the following states poverty data came from NCES: AL, AR, AZ, CT, GA, HI, IA, ID, KS, MA, MI, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NM, NY, OR, PA, RI, VA, VT, WV.

 

Why are some schools missing from the displays?

If a given school or its district was flagged for a concerning financial value in NERD$, it has been excluded from all displays for FY19 only. Schools without outcomes data have been excluded from the scatterplot. The scatterplots also may be missing schools that have total per pupil expenditures less than or greater than a cutoff for that state. The cutoff is a subjective design choice meant to maximize the usefulness of the scatterplots by showing more variation among non-outliers.

 

Where can I find the list of missing schools?

Please find the list of missing schools here.

 

What years of data are used?

Data used varies by state. The drop down under the state name indicates available data. The tool will be updated with newer financial and outcomes data starting in Fall 2022.

 

Can I navigate the tool with only a keyboard or screen reader?

An accessible version of the tool can be accessed. Users can toggle between menu items using the Tab key. The menus can be operated by arrow keys and text entry. The tool is built with screen reader usage in mind. Below each data visualization is a table with the same data (the table renders as transparent so it only visible to screen readers).

 

My data seems implausible or I have other unanswered questions?

Please reach out to edunomics@georgetown.edu.

Why the School Spending & Outcomes Snapshot?

 

The new ESSA requirement to report school-by-school spending provides a unique opportunity to inform policy, management, and improvement about the financial elements of schooling. However, the current financial transparency reporting requirement is far from sufficient to ensure that the data will be accessible to and used by school leaders, school board members and parents. As the initial June 2020 deadline for reporting these data approached, state education agency staff scrambled to design visualizations to communicate the data to key stakeholders, and many states still have no visualizations available at all.

This project focused on designing visualizations such that key stakeholders could understand answers to questions like “Is my school leveraging dollars to do the most for students?” and “How equitable is a particular district’s allocation method?" Working over two years with 26 districts, we piloted numerous displays, gathered feedback, and designed this tool. The Tool’s goal is that stakeholders at all levels can access educational financial and outcomes data in a visual manner that fuels thoughtful conversation among district and school communities on financial strategy and management.

Districts participating in the pilot received communications training and conversation protocols to support their use of the displays. Results of the pilot were shared at STATSDC 2021 and NAESPA 2022.

 piloted data visualizations to understand what displays work to fuel thoughtful conversation among district and school communities on financial strategy and management, ultimately informing the design and usefulness of this tool.