APA establishes four cost pressures that are
related to specific student characteristics: 1)
special education; 2) poverty; 3) English language
learners; 4) gifted. The additional per student
cost was calculated at 1.1 for special education,
0.43 for poverty (the proxy used was the number
of students enrolled in the federal free and reduced
price lunch program), 0.75 for English language
learners, and 0.37 for gifted students.
APA calculated the average cost for these students
as follows (figures are not adjusted to account
- $10,404 per student in special education
- $3,441 per poverty student
- $14,357 per ELL student
- $3000 per gifted student
The APA study finds that substantial additional
funding is needed for schools and districts to meet
Pennsylvania’s specific performance target
and achieve 100 percent proficiency. The authors
do not believe that a “one-size fits all”
approach will solve the problem. Instead, they recommend
that necessary additional funds be collected at
the state level and allocated by the state through
a formula that is sensitive to the needs and wealth
of school districts, so that Pennsylvania can be
better able to reduce the inequities caused by the
current heavy reliance on local revenues.
to the study, in the aggregate the costing out
estimate is $4.38 billion and 25.4 percent higher
than current spending.
of Pennsylvania’s 501 school districts,
the authors identified 471 districts whose current
spending is below their costing out estimate.
least wealthy districts are the furthest from
the costing out estimate of resource needs.
APA says that on average Pennsylvania needs to
raise spending by 25.4 percent, the study concludes
that the poorest 20 percent of school districts
and Philadelphia need to raise spending by 37.5
and 50 percent respectively. In contrast, the
wealthiest 20 percent only have to raise spending
by 6.6 percent.
The authors of this study combined three different
methodologies to derive comprehensive results.
The research approaches used by APA included a
successful school district analysis, a professional
judgment analysis, and an evidence based analysis.
successful school district approach measures the
spending of high performing school districts against
state performance expectations;
professional judgment approach relies on the expertise
and experience of educators to specify the resources,
staff and programs that schools need to meet performance
evidence based approach uses education research
to recommend how resources should be deployed
in schools so that students can meet performance
APA also conducted other analyses designed to
understand issues associated with factors such
as student transportation, educator wages, change
in enrollment, and regional cost of living differences
across the state.
Using these methodologies and analyses, APA identified
a performance target or “standard”
by which all schools would be measured, and this
target represented the single goal by which all
of APA’s costing out efforts were ultimately
is one of the few cost studies that estimates
the resources needed so that 100 percent of students
can achieve proficiency in reading, writing, and
math by 2014.
study accounted for students with special needs,
including students in poverty, special education
students, and English language learners.
study also took into account additional cost factors
associated with differences between school districts
based on their size, enrollment trends, and regional
costs of living.
“adequacy” the study considered “equity”
from the student and the taxpayer perspective
to determine if the resources spent on public
schools are distributed in a way that allows all
children to have an equal opportunity to succeed
study did not consider food service costs,
transportation costs, costs associated with community
services, adult education, capital costs (such
as school building construction), or debt cost
services. These costs are ordinarily excluded
from adequacy studies.
Preschool was not included in the study
(other than preschool for students with special
The study concludes that school districts
with higher wealth and lower needs spend more
than lower wealth districts.
In developing the study, the APA counted on
the cooperation of the State Board of Education
and the Pennsylvania Department of Education,
which both provided their assistance in gathering
necessary data. The APA also utilized the expertise
of the many panelists who participated in the
In February 2008 Governor Rendell proposed
a new education formula that would fund the cost
study over a six year period.
Pennsylvania State Board of Education
Augenblick, Palaich, and Associates Inc.
Network, Teachers College, Columbia University. Copyright 2001-2011.