Financial Transparency Community of Practice (CoP) Summary

CoP: Financial Transparency

CoP Description: The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) introduced a new provision that requires state education agencies (SEAs) to publish school-by-school, per-pupil expenditure information on state and local report cards for all schools and districts in the state. The new ESSA per-pupil expenditure (PPE) reporting requirement has the potential to have important effects on school systems, as it will enable the comparison of spending across schools within districts for equity purposes, and also will enable the pairing of spending and outcomes by school. Some SEAs realized this opportunity quickly and took immediate steps to systematically collect the data and move to create meaningful visualization systems. Other SEAs  — particularly those with limited state agency resources — moved more slowly toward meeting the requirement. Further, several (typically the SEAs in rural and sparsely populated states) expressed concerns about limited resources to implement changes to district accounting practices that were necessitated by this requirement. In these rural states, many of the school districts have non-traditional financial arrangements (with regional service centers, co-delivery, students served by neighboring districts, tuition payments, etc.) that can complicate the computation of a standard per-pupil expenditure.

Given these challenges, the State Support Network launched a Community of Practice (CoP) focused specifically on meeting the needs of rural SEAs. Over the course of five learning cycles, members from the participating SEAs worked on developing data collection plans, communicating with school districts about the reporting requirement, and planning for data visualization once the school spending data is available.

Participating SEAs: Arkansas, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oklahoma

CoP Duration: May-October 2018