Letter: School adequacy studies critical


In recent years, state legislatures, state education departments and advocacy groups in more than 30 states have sponsored education adequacy studies to objectively determine the funding levels needed to educate all children to high standards. These professional studies have introduced transparency and rigor to a previously opaque and often arbitrary process.

Providing lawmakers with the very best, most accurate and most reliable data is an imperative first step before any debate on improving public schools occurs. That’s why I’m proud to serve on the School Finance Research Collaborative, a broad-based, diverse and bipartisan group of business leaders and education experts from who agree Michigan’s school funding system is broken and needs a comprehensive fix.

The Collaborative is supporting a school funding adequacy study now underway using multiple methodologies to determine what it truly costs to educate all Michigan public school students, regardless of income, location, learning challenges or other circumstances. Thanks to the Collaborative’s work, the Great Lakes state is now among more than 30 states to embark on school adequacy studies over the past 15 years. Nearly all of those states have used multiple methodologies in their studies, and many have conducted multiple studies.

Adequacy studies are rigorously being used to lay the groundwork for long-term, meaningful school reforms that help all students achieve and succeed, whether that means college, technical training, apprenticeships or jobs right after graduation. In July, it was announced that Wyoming would be the latest state to conduct a school adequacy study. The Wyoming study will also use multiple methodologies to determine the true cost of providing a high-quality education.

In Michigan, the research team will create 20 panels among 240 Michigan educators including teachers, teacher consultants, principals, superintendents, special education directors and specialists. There will be a special panel on charter schools as well as panels on poverty, preschool, districts of varying sizes and geographically isolated districts. Additional panels will focus on special needs students including English Language Learners and at-risk students, and career and tech ed. The study will provide lawmakers with the foundation for any potential school reforms.

The Collaborative is helping Michigan prepare all students for bright futures in the competitive global marketplace.

Michael Addonizio, Ph.D.

professor of education policy studies,

Wayne State University