While standardized test scores have improved on the margins, California public school students continue to underperform.
A new report out late last night from the Public Policy Institute of California says the state's system of school financing is badly in need of reform. The report also lays out five steps to make the system more rational, more local, and more transparent.
Those five steps are:
1. The system needs to take into account that "some students" -- notably English language learners, high school students, and children in rural areas -- are more expensive to educate than others. California's current system has a one-size-fits-all approach to finance
2. Change incentives so that school districts are rewarded financially for student achievement. In some cases, districts receive more money for failure now.
3. Allocate funds more transparently. The current state minimum guarantee for school funding, Prop 98, is too difficult to understand. The state system "should be comprehensible to all citizens rather than a handful of experts."
4. Treat school districts that are similar similarly. Many funding rates for extra costs are based on historical records of spending, rather than actual costs.
5. More local control combined with more state accountability. Districts and schools should receive more decision-making authority and control over revenues -- in exchange for a higher level of accountability.
You can see the whole report here.