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Nevada Fact Sheet

State Funding Context

From NCES (most current available statistics):

Pre-K to 12 Students, 2004-05: 400,083
Annual Public School Expenditures, 2003-04: $2.2 billion
% Eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch, 2004-05: 28.5
% in limited-English-proficiency programs, 2004-05: 17.9

Study Title:

"Estimating the Cost of an Adequate Education in Nevada"


Date Completed:

August 2006


Definition of Adequacy:

For the Professional Judgment methodology, adequacy was defined as meeting both input and output requirements. Input requirements were state resource requirements, including curriculum and class sizes. Output requirements were state and federal student test-score goals in reading, math, English language arts, and science, including the state accountability system and NCLB’s 100 percent proficiency by 2014 goal. Despite this definition, the study backed off a little from 100 percent proficiency by instructing the panelists to understand “100 percent” as “nearly 100 percent.”

For the Successful School Districts methodology, there was no specific definition of adequacy. The method was intended to identify the costs at schools that are currently high-performing, not to determine the cost of bringing all schools up to “adequate” performance.

Calculated Base Costs:

Professional Judgment
“Target” base cost per student:
Three examples, i.e. datapoints from a continuous function relating district size to per pupil spending (see pp. 71-72 of the study)

Small school districts (780 students): $11,327
Medium school districts (6,500 students): $7,867
Large school districts (50,000 students): $7,229

Special-needs additional weightings (fraction of base costs):

“At-risk” students (eligible for free or reduced price lunch): a range from 0.29 to 0.35, based on district size
English Language Learners: a range from 0.47 to 1.21, based on district size
Special Education: a range from 0.89 to 3.55, based on district size and level of special education needs
Career and Technical Education: 0.04 to 0.14, based on district size

Successful School Districts
Note: According to the study, these per-pupil costs represent a “starting point” based on current high -performing districts and do not represent any adequacy goals.

Average cost per student: $6,221

Calculated Additional Costs:

Professional Judgment: $1.3 billion (appox. 59 percent increase over 2003-2004 levels), or $2.2 billion by 2014, adjusting for projected inflation.

Successful School Districts: $79.6 million to reach the “starting point” goals (approx. 3.6 percent increase over 2003-2004 levels), plus inflationary adjustments.

Major Recommendations:

Increase funding to target amount – $4.46 billion – by 2014 by either increasing funding an equal percentage per year or by an equal dollar amount per year.
Incorporate necessary achievement requirements into decisions regarding the state-level funding system.
The study lists several recommendations as to what programs would increase achievement, based on recommendations from professional judgment panelists:

  • Smaller class sizes

  • Full-day kindergarten

  • Before- and after-school programs, plus Saturday and summer classes for students who need the most help

  • Equipment for Career and Technical Education classes

  • Additional support staff for English language learner (ELL) and “at-risk” (low-income) children

  • Increased professional development for teachers

  • High quality pre-school programs for at-risk children

  • Increased technology in classrooms
  • Additional recommendations

  • For students with multiple special needs, simply adding each applicable weighting may overstate the cost of their education

  • Modify the base per-pupil funding in future years by performing additional cost studies and estimates
  • Additional Findings:

    The 59% increase in funding recommended for Nevada is a greater percentage increase than the consultants have recommended in other states. The study provides several reasons why this additional funding is needed:

    Nevada is the fastest growing state in the country, and resources have not kept up with student population growth
    Nevada currently has 54 teachers per 1000 students, well below the national average of 63
    The state funding formula does not include any weightings for ELL or at-risk students
    61% of school funding in Nevada is local funding, a higher percentage than in most states
    Nevada districts have a higher-than-average per pupil capital expenditure burden, which draws money from local funds

    Evidence-Based (Expert Judgment) Approach:
    This methodology was not used to determine any costs. Two experts created a draft of resource requirements for Nevada schools, which was given to professional judgment panelists as a starting point for discussion.

    Professional Judgment Approach:
    The study used six panels. Two “school-level” panels addressed the needs of schools. One “district-level” panel examined the work of the school-level panels and added non-school-based district services. One “special needs” panel examined the work of the school-level panels and added resources needed for at-risk, ELL, and special education students. One Career and Technical Education (CTE) panel added resources necessary for CTE programs. An overview panel reviewed the work of the other panels, resolved inconsistencies, and examined preliminary costs. The panels together comprised 39 professionals.
    Panelists were presented with hypothetical schools of various sizes and demographics and were told to identify resources deemed necessary for a specific list of inputs and outcomes (provided in Appendix B of the study).
    The consultants later calculated the costs of the designated resources. Resources that panelists identified included: Personnel, professional development, instructional supplies, non-traditional programs (such as before-school, after-school, pre-school, and summer-school), technology, and various other operational costs, excluding the costs listed below (see Special Features)

    Successful Schools Approach:
    Nevada has 17 districts, two of which contain 86 percent of all students. For this reason, the consultants looked at successful schools, as opposed to successful school districts (the more commonly used methodology).
    S uccessful School were defined as those school meeting both of two requirements: (1) the school was “on target” to meet 2008-2009 AYP objectives based on performance in previous years; (2) the school met the 2004-2005 AYP objective for two of six special needs groups (ELA and math scores, for special education, at-risk, and ELL students).
    The consultants applied an “efficiency screen” to eliminate schools with personnel per student or expenditures per student more than one standard deviation above the mean.
    For the calculated base and additional costs (listed above), the weightings for special-needs students from the Professional Judgment portion of the study were applied back to the Successful School District base costs.

    Statistical Additions:
    In calculating the target funding levels for 2014, the consultants included inflationary adjustment formulas based on the national Consumer Price Index and cost-of-living changes in Nevada.
    The consultants used existing schools to calculate a size adjustment function, based on the observation that schools tend to have (1) fixed costs (a constant term), (2) costs per student (a linear term), and (3) economies of scale in larger schools (a quadratic term). The consultants found that the Professional Judgment data fit the shape of the function, and so the function was used to generate a continuous per-pupil-cost function for the Professional Judgment results.
    The Professional Judgment results include a regional cost of living adjustment. Per pupil costs for each district were modified based on a cost of living index the consultants calculated.

    Special Features:

    The professional judgment component of the study included costs of preschool and programs for low-income and ELL students.
    This study did not consider capital, transportation, food service, adult education, or community service costs, which are ordinarily excluded from adequacy studies.
    This study complimented the Nevada In$ite system, which tracks detailed school-level spending data.

    Public Input:






    Prepared for:

    Nevada Legislative Commission’s Committee to Study School Financing Adequacy

    Prepared by: Augenblick, Palaich and Associates, Inc.

    Fact Sheet prepared by Matthew Samberg, October 20, 2006.