PreK-12 Education

How Much Are State Pension Payments Worth to Illinois School Districts?

Release: June 23, 2017

Every school district in Illinois except for the Chicago Public Schools has its teacher pension payments made by the state as a consolidated payment to the Teachers Retirement System. Because of this, it is difficult to determine how much money these pension payments are worth to individual districts. CTBA has created per-district estimates for both normal cost (the payment that covers benefits being earned by current employees) and legacy cost (the debt service payment to make up for previous years' underfunding).

The Cost of a Two-Year Property Tax Freeze For Illinois Schools: Up to $830 Million

Release: June 23, 2017

Governor Bruce Rauner has made a property tax freeze a centerpiece of his demands for a full state budget, and the Illinois Senate passed a bill (SB484) that would enact a two-year freeze in May. But such a freeze, without provision for replacement revenue from the state, would effectively be a massive funding cut for K-12 education in Illinois.

The Potential Harm to Downstate Schools If the Governor Vetoes SB1

Release: June 20, 2017

The Evidence-Based Funding for Student Success Act, or Senate Bill (SB) 1, was approved by the Illinois General Assembly on June 11, 2017. SB1 would significantly reform the how Illinois funds public schools by replacing an outdated, one-size-fits-all formula by calculating a unique adequacy level for each school district in the state, based on evidence-based best practices and demographics.

Why Illinois Should Adopt an Evidence-Based Education Funding Model

Release: July 13, 2016

To address both its inadequate and inequitable approach to school funding, Illinois should move to a funding system based on the Evidenced Based Model. Designed to identify the level of funding needed to deliver an adequate education to every student in a state and sensitive to each child’s needs, the Evidenced Based Model ensures that the distribution of education funding is equitable, and accounts for the cost of overcoming “at risk” factors.

The Evidenced Based Model determines per-pupil expenditures by identifying how much research-based “best practices” cost, given a state’s overall and regional labor market and other cost factors. Finally, the Evidenced Based Model identifies and costs-out those educational practices which the research shows to boost student achievement.

Analysis of Indiana School Choice Scholarship Program

Release: April 16, 2015

Recently, a number of states and cities across America have incorporated elements of school choice into their education systems in the hopes of improving student achievement. Starting in 2011 and expanded in 2013, Indiana joined this movement by enacting three bills—House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1001, HEA 1002 and HEA 1003—which, when taken together, create one of the more comprehensive school choice programs in the nation (collectively the “Indiana Choice Legislation”).  At its core, the Indiana Choice Legislation utilizes public tax dollars to subsidize school choice. These subsidies come in the form of vouchers, state income tax deductions and state income tax credits.

Indiana’s goal of enhancing student achievement is laudable.  It also directly coincides with growing national concern over the academic performance of America’s school children as measured under respected, international benchmarks like the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) “Programme for International Student Assessment” (PISA) exam.  Indeed, in the most recent PISA exams, the performance of America’s children (considered as a whole) came in at just 27th in math, 20th in science, and 17th in reading.

The question for policy makers in Indiana then, is can Indiana expect its school choice program to enhance student performance or help build a better public education system statewide?

This paper will not utilize in its analysis studies conducted by organizations with a clear bias, be it pro-voucher or anti-voucher. It instead draws on objective, peer-reviewed analyses. The goal is to answer two key questions about the Indiana Choice Legislation as objectively as possible.

First, does the actual documented track record of existing voucher programs demonstrate that those programs in fact achieved the desired goal of enhancing student achievement? Here, the short and clear answer is no.

Second, can voucher programs be expected to enhance student performance or improve public education systems, based on the education reforms implemented in the nations that currently rank in the top five in the world in reading, math, and science under PISA? Again, based on the evidence, the answer is no.

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