School Finance Center database shows high-achieving school districts can withstand budget constraints

School Finance Center database shows high-achieving school districts can withstand budget constraints

—Many school districts deliver a greater ROI in student achievement for the funding they receive—

Sacramento—Today the Pacific Research Institute and Educational Results Partnership launched the updated California School Finance Center database, online at This online resource compiles publicly available information on public school revenue, achievement, and student demographic from a dozen California Department of Education sources to present the most complete picture possible of the state’s public school funding.

“As the school year gets into full swing, parents and policy makers alike will be mindful of how California’s budget crisis impacts our students,” said Vicki Murray, Ph.D., associate director of Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute. “What this database offers is a comparative view of which school districts are weathering the storm—school districts like Temple City Unified in Los Angeles County, which boasts an exceptional Return on Investment (ROI) percentile rank of 93 in English language arts and math achievement while receiving nearly $1,500 less per-pupil than comparable California school districts.”

The database, designed to increase transparency, is a tool for school districts to become more efficient in improving student academic achievement by making it easy for them to identify top performers and providing the public with accurate comparisons of revenue and achievement. The database presents:

Total and per-pupil revenue in the finest level of detail currently possible according to existing revenue categories as reported by more than 960 public school districts, 350 charter schools filing distinct financial data, and 58 county offices of education;
Easy-to-read data for student achievement, demographic census, and staff salaries for school years 2003-04 through 2008-09;
A Return on Investment (ROI) feature that quantifies the relationship between revenue and student achievement;
Peer comparison charts to determine what is working in districts and charter schools similar in size, per-pupil revenue amount, and student population.
The updated California School Finance Center database now contains a State Summary page that provides an at-a-glance snapshot of the latest revenue, student achievement, demographic census, and staff salary information. A new “California School Finance Center How-To Guide” also provides step-by-step instructions on using the various database features to access the information they need.

“California has the most expansive – and expensive – public elementary and secondary education system in the country. But because of the complexity of the school finance system, it’s difficult to understand if the money is being spent effectively and equitably to educate California students,” said Vicki E. Murray, Ph.D., associate director of Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute. “Unlike any resource currently available, the database puts all funding for school districts and hundreds of charter schools, along with important student, staff, and achievement information, right at users’ fingertips.”

“This is a tool to help us understand the connection between resources and academic achievement,” said Kirk Clark, President of California Business for Education Excellence. “Just as all of our work around student achievement data, this project is about finding those that are outperforming expectations and then highlighting their practices for others to replicate. In these challenging economic times we want to shine a flashlight on those that are getting the job done for their students.”

A how-to guide on using this useful online resource is available in PDF here.

To access the updated California School Finance database, visit arrange an interview with Vicki Murray please contact PRI’s Press Office at (415) 955-6136 or [email protected].

About PRI
The mission of the Pacific Research Institute (PRI) is to champion freedom, opportunity, and personal responsibility for all individuals by advancing free-market policy solutions. Since its founding in 1979, PRI has remained steadfast to the vision of a free and civil society where individuals can achieve their full potential.

About Education Results Partnership
The non-profit organization Educational Results Partnership provides a free on-line data and school improvement system called to California’s public schools and communities. promotes measurably improved academic achievement in public schools through focused use of achievement data, benchmarking and replicating best practices from high performing look-a-like schools. The school improvement system has become the largest longitudinally linked, student academic achievement database in California and is receiving three millions hits per month from California schools and communities.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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