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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What Good is Data if it's not Updated and Accurate?

Our State Department of Education rightfully promotes the use of data to formulate teaching and learning strategies. Who hasn't heard the refrain of data driven schools? Who can argue against accessing data to convert into actionable information?

Similarly, who could argue against the use of data in high stakes decision-making exercises involving the distribution of state tax funds to support public schools? I CAN - when the data is outdated and therefore inaccurate. What's the old saying - junk in, junk out?

As you can see below from a PowerPoint slide extracted from a presentation generated by Dr. Rick Timbs of the Statewide School Finance Consortium, the state of New York is not using the most recent census data collected in 2010 as a platform to extrapolate the formula that determines how much money each school district receives. This is significant, because our school district is still being identified as an "Average Need" district based on the 2000 census data, when in fact the updated figures readily available from the 2010 census would more correctly cite us as a "High Need" district, and thus qualifying as the recipient of much more aid. The difference is critical to our continued improvement efforts at a time when funding is scarce.

Many thanks to Dr. Rick Timbs of the Statewide School Finance Consortium for advocating for the equitable distribution of state aid to public schools.

Problems with the Foundation Formula and GEA

6.) Need/ Resource Capacity Computation

The Need/Resource Capacity (N/RC) uses the 2000 census data which is eleven years old, and Free and Reduced lunch data from 2000-01 and 2001-02.

The state should use the most up to date indices of poverty/wealth when formulating a state aid distribution for education.

Where the N/RC is used? GAP Elimination Adjustment

Total General Fund Expenditure (TGFE) check - limits aid lost in relation to the district's TGFE. If a district is high need then the aid lost is limited to 6.8% of the 2010-11 TGFE. Average need districts can lose up to 11%. Need-Based Restoration differentiates the dollar amount restored per student based on the N/RC.
(N/RC is also used to determine High Needs Building Aid)

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