Costing-Out Studies

Historically, the amount of funding provided to public schools has been based on a politically determined amount of money available for state education aid – without an analysis of educational needs – and on local ability to raise through property taxes. As a result, school revenues are the result of political struggles over how to distribute money among a state’s school districts.

In 37 states, experts in education finance have performed “costing-out studies” at the request of state legislatures or other organizations, in order to determine the amount of school funding needed to provide all students a meaningful educational opportunity.

Background information and useful resources

A Costing-Out Primer>>
An explanation of what costing-out studies are, their history, and the methodologies used

Fact Sheets>>
Fact sheets summarizing the results of costing-out studies performed in 39 states

Costing-Out Policy Brief>>
A policy brief on the costing study-based school funding in Maryland

“Professional Rigor, Public Engagement and Judicial Review”>>
2006 article by Michael A. Rebell that analyzes judicial critiques of “costing out” studies and recommends improvements to the current practice of costing out

Easy Reference Handouts (PDF):

Cost Study Chart: One-page chart on cost studies across the country
Cost Study Map: One-page map of cost studies across the country
NCLB Cost Study Chart: One-page chart on cost studies about NCLB
NCLB Cost Study Map: One-page map of cost studies about NCLB
An Introduction to Education Cost Studies:
Two-page issue brief
What Are Education “Cost Studies”?: Know-the-issues handout