The need for costing-out studies is clear given the clauses found in virtually all state constitutions that dictate that the state has a responsibility to provide an education that is considered adequate, sufficient or some other term that represents a level that allows all students an opportunity to achieve the outcomes expected of the public education system. If states are to follow through on this obligation then it is necessary to understand both the amount of effort involved in terms the public funding required to offer educational sufficiency and how to appropriately distribute this funding. More formally stated, the main objectives of educational costing-out studies are to answer what have been referred to as the two fundamental questions of educational adequacy (Chambers & Levin, 2009):
- What does it cost to enable a public school system to provide all students with an adequate education?
- How can state school finance systems allocate their resources equitably, such that all students are afforded an adequate education regardless of their need or circumstance?
The proposed presentation will describe the results of a costing-out study for California that address the two fundamental questions put forth above. The study employed a Professional Judgement approach, which involved organizing panels of expert educators to develop efficient resource specifications necessary to provide students in a variety of school settings (i.e., varying with respect to grade range, student needs, and enrollment size) an opportunity to meet outcomes defined in the state’s accountability system. The resource specifications were then translated into cost figures using a Resource Cost Model (RCM), which calculates costs based upon an “ingredients” approach (Levin, 2017). The data is then used to model the adequate cost for all California public K-12 schools and districts. (Excerpt from author introduction)