Funding Student Learning by Way of a Financial System

“Funding Student Learning by Way of a Financial System” (Part 1)

It’s not news — educational finance need support. With less funds and more demand for higher student achievement results, the time has come where educators and elected officials are looking for ways to not only do more with less, but also reframe the systems used so they more effectively support student outcomes.

In a publication entitled “Funding Student Learning,” released by the National Working Group on Funding Student Learning, Chairman Jacob E. Adams, Jr. discusses multiple ways resources can support the nation’s ambitions for student learning. He states the National Working Group on Funding Student Learning is aiding in this ambition by crafting a vision and determining what path districts can take to reach that vision.

One particular piece in the publication salient to us is the section on creating a better financial system that supports these ambitious student learning goals. Adams infers what is needed in education finance is a new learning-oriented system. He quotes:

This system uses continuous instructional improvement to align and adapt resources to instructional and student needs. It uses student-based funding, school linked accounts, and real dollar budgeting to create transparency and flexibility and to deliver resources to the students they are intended to serve. It uses positive incentives, performance information, new decision making capabilities, and reform-oriented collective bargaining to support the conversion of resources into results. It uses investments in research and development, strengthened charter laws, and laboratory settings to supply schools with new tools and methods and better notions of cost. It uses new financial reporting and funding contingencies to create meaningful accounts and accountability. This system defines respective roles for educators and elected officials. It fundamentally alters resource distribution, management, and accountability.

With quite the lofty goal, he does state and remind us that this is in fact a system, which is a determinant in the vision’s efficacy to reach its potential. Although each of these ideas has its own merit, the reminder that this is a system keeps us from forgetting that teamworkthese are not just a group of isolated opportunities. Reaching the vision actually takes the sum of these actions, everyone working together to ensure no weak links.

This isn’t easy though, and Adams reminds us of this. Funding student learning is plain hard. It represents a district and system-wide evolution, ensuring all parts are connected, rather than the particularly easier task of redefining or creating individual projects, programs, or formulas.

Enlīt sees this issue rather clearly in our work with districts nationwide. As a supporter of continuous improvement, performance management inside and outside the classroom, we see the chasm between understanding what these ideas mean, how they can make change, and actually choosing and doing the work so these ideas are manifested.

In the next blog, we’ll look at why these changes are hard. This will help unpack the issues as we look to shift momentum, transforming our minds to see the steps ahead of us, and how we can get there.


Adams, Jacob E., Jr. Funding Student Learning. School Finance Redesign Project, 2008

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