Adventures in Ed Funding

How much does it cost to educate students? The story of a landmark California school funding study

April 24, 2020 California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO) Season 1 Episode 14
Adventures in Ed Funding
How much does it cost to educate students? The story of a landmark California school funding study
Show Notes

What if you considered all the ingredients that go into making a great educational experience for students? If you added these up, how much do you think California would need to invest per student to make sure we could provide a quality education to all? 

That's exactly the study that our guest, Jesse Levin, principal researcher at American Institutes for Research spearheaded. It's a landmark California education funding adequacy study released in 2018 that was part of the statewide Getting Down to Facts II project.

Jesse takes us "inside the room" as he recounts how a series of professional judgment panels made up of educational experts deliberated about the programs and services students would need to successfully achieve the State's academic and content standards.

We explore how their models considered various school types and the different needs of student populations, all while attempting to maximize cost-effectiveness. And yes: we arrive at the amount that Jesse and his team determined California schools would actually need to invest. Hint: It's more than current spending levels.

Jesse puts the findings of this adequacy study into illuminating context, plus he reflects on reactions to the study when it came out. It's an important and fascinating journey into the world of California education research.

Note: This episode was recorded just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the State's economic outlook has changed dramatically; however, the findings of this landmark study have not changed. We felt it was still highly relevant to present details about the study as a way to provide valuable context for current and future school funding deliberations.

Key Resources

About Jesse D. Levin 

Over the past 18 years at AIR, Jesse has directed projects investigating school finance equity and adequacy, resource allocation, and educational effectiveness. He currently serves as the director of several cost analysis/cost effectiveness studies for various educational interventions, and recently served as the director of a national study of district weighted student funding systems and as deputy director for a national study of Title I resource allocation, both funded by the U.S. Department of Education. In addition to California, Dr. Levin has conducted funding-related studies in Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

He is an appointed member of the California Practitioner Advisory Group, which advises the California State Board of Education, participates in the California Department of Education Technical Design Group, and serves a board trustee in his local district (Pacifica School District). Read full bio.

About CASBO: The California Association of School Business Officials is the premier resource for professional development and business best practices for California's school business leaders.

Your guide:  Paul Richman is a public education advocate and consultant. Contact him at