ERIC Number: ED284370
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987
Cost of Education: An Investment in America's Future. ERS Report.
Robinson, Glen E.; Protheroe, Nancy J.
American taxpayers are currently investing more than $160 billion annually in public elementary and secondary education. Concerned citizens continue to ask: For what purposes is the money being used, and is it accomplishing its purposes? This seven-chapter study addresses these concerns and provides factual answers to related questions about the costs and benefits of the American investment in public education. Research on trend data quickly revealed significant gaps in the information available about school district finances. During the past 25 years, definitions used to report expenditure data had changed, resulting in data that could be compared only by substantial adjustment to compensate for these differences. It was found that currently no nationwide data collection effort existed that identified, for example, the average percent of school district expenditures for the budget categories of instruction or maintenance. This report recommends, therefore, that a system be established to collect such important financial information, along with suggestions for meaningful budget categories and a reporting process. Following an introductory chapter, the second chapter describes public education's setting over the past 25 years in terms of forces affecting enrollment, staffing, equity, program administration, and influence upon ultimate cost. The status and trends in school finance are discussed in chapter 3, including allocations for instruction, administration, and maintenance, and governmental contributions are detailed. Lack of comparative data about district expenditures and uncomparable interstate financial reporting systems obviate trend analysis. Chapter 4 presents criteria for collecting meaningful financial data and a process for establishing an interstate database. Measuring desired outcomes is analyzed in chapter 5. Recommendations are that knowledge and competencies be specified and measurements reflect student learning. Chapter 6 suggests that educators employ a research information base on effective schools, teaching and learning, and cost effectiveness when making investment decisions. The concluding chapter summarizes the need for data that increase the investment return in education. Achieving quality and equity is tied to taxes and funding allocations, which must be translated into programs involving staff, facilities, and dollar amounts. A 211-item bibliography is appended. (CJH)
Descriptors: Cost Effectiveness, Databases, Decision Making, Educational Assessment, Educational Finance, Elementary Secondary Education, Expenditures, Futures (of Society), Information Needs, Information Systems, Program Effectiveness, Research Utilization, School Effectiveness, School Support, Trend Analysis
Publication Sales, Educational Research Service, 2000 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201 (Stock No.219-21740; $26.00).
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Administrators; Policymakers; Researchers; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: Educational Research Service, Arlington, VA.