NYSASBO Presents Original Research at the Association for Education Finance and Policy’s 43rd Annual Conference

Dr. Andrew Van Alstyne, NYSASBO’s Deputy Director of Education and Research, presented NYSASBO research on changing demographics and student need (available at at the AEFP conference in Portland, OR. The report’s key findings are that while enrollment in New York has been steadily declining for more than 15 years, student need has been increasing at faster rates. The analysis focused on three student need categories included in the state’s Foundation Aid formula: economic hardship, students with disabilities, and English language learners.

The conference featured many panels of interest to NYSASBO members. For example:

  • School district leaders and consultants from Miami, FL shared their attempt to create an equitable statewide regional cost index based on salary differentials between counties in the state. New York currently uses a regional cost index approach that compares salary differences between professionals with similar credentials as those in education but aren’t in education.
  • A presentation examined Georgia’s use of sales tax to fund capital projects. School districts in the state have the ability to ask voters to approve a 1 cent sales tax, which all but one district in the state have. Because revenue bases vary greatly between districts, the researchers found significant inequality between funds raised across the state.
  • There was a full panel on the academic effects of pre-K education that included nationwide and local studies on the affects of pre-K. The overall lessons from the panel are that pre-K has the strongest impact on students’ letter/word abilities, and then on math skills. There was relatively little impact on executive function. These effects linger for a few years and are particularly pronounced for students who are economically disadvantaged. Latino or African-American, and/or English language learners.
  • A mixture of non-academic researchers, academics, and policy makers shared lessons on communicating with different audiences. These audiences often have different priorities, which shape what they look for. Academics generally prefer new findings, particularly ones that challenge conventional wisdom. On the other hand, policy makers are much more pragmatic and want to diagnose the problem with an eye on how to fix it.
  • Another panel looked at school district responses to racial inequality in schools. The panelists were district employees whose jobs were focused on equity and they shared their experiences working to build “cultures of equity.” Common strategies included evidence-based practices drawing on qualitative and quantitative research, root-cause analysis, collaboration and professional development for principals and assistant principals, and dialog with parents and communities.

The next issue of The Reporter, NYSASBO’s quarterly magazine, will have an in-depth article discussing district level funding formulas based on an AEFP panel on the topic.

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