Panel Paper: Understanding Long-Term Trends in the Progressivity of State Finance and School Spending

Thursday, November 8, 2018
Tyler - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Elizabeth Cascio, Dartmouth College, Nora Gordon, Georgetown University and Sarah Reber, University of California, Los Angeles

Increasing the progressivity of school spending—relative to the distribution that would prevail under pure local finance—is a key goal of both federal and state aid for education. In this paper, we draw on school district-level data linked to several measures of economic disadvantage to show how the progressivity of school spending between districts within states varies both across states and over time. We explore how our understanding of measured progressivity is influenced by the fragmentation of school districts, which differs markedly across states. Finally, we investigate how these patterns depend on how we measure economic disadvantage at the district level--a timely question given changes in how schools are collecting data on eligibility for free- and reduced-price meals.