CPRE researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have been working on school finance redesign since 1990. The issue that has driven this effort has been the goal of state standards-based education reform and, more recently, of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act to teach all students to high standards. This goal has shifted the orientation of the education system from inputs to outcomes--student achievement to rigorous performance standards--with an attendant accountability focus at the school site. In the broader school finance community, this focus has induced a shift from "equity" to "adequacy," for both litigation and policy. Though adequacy narrowly seeks to identify the level of dollars needed to produce a desired level of student achievement, its more general objective is to redesign the finance system to link resource levels and resource-use practices more directly to student learning.
This policy brief describes how CPRE has approached this agenda over the past decade and a half, and reveals how our current finance research has begun to explicitly link the level and use of resources with strategies that districts and schools can deploy to literally double student performance over a 5- to 10-year period. During the time period over which this finance research agenda has evolved, we believe it has succeeded in linking school finance equity and adequacy, both by aligning effective allocation and use of resources to the most powerful and comprehensive schoolbased strategies to boost student learning and by identifying strategies for how and how much to pay teachers.