Why Can’t Missouri Be Like . . . Illinois?
Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released its school report cards earlier this year in an attempt to fulfill the transparency requirements in the national Every Student Succeeds Act. DESE’s report card either missed or barely met many of the requirements listed in the federal law. The deadline for one specific requirement—reporting on spending per student at the school level—has been pushed back to June 2020, allowing states more time to collect the data. Missouri has not yet published the school spending data; it will (hopefully) be on the 2018–19 Missouri school report cards,
Of course, there’s no reason to wait for the final minute to report. Nineteen other states, including Illinois, have already released school-level spending ahead of the deadline. But Illinois takes it a step further and breaks out that spending by subcategory, including spending for instructional purposes, teacher salary and benefits, and classroom supplies. The state also has a high quality, organized school report card website that allows people to easily compare schools. Parents and school leaders can compare schools’ spending and academic performance at the same time.
The screenshot below shows a few randomly selected schools in Illinois and their spending comparisons, and also shows how much of school funding comes from different sources (local, state, federal or evidence-based funding). Further comparisons might reveal districts where one school spends more money per student and does poorly in academics, while another school that receives less money but does very well in academics.
Information about school-level funding will provide more detail and context for how schools are performing. Parents in Illinois and other states that have already published this information can use it to form a more complete picture of school performance. Why does it seem like DESE always waits until the last possible minute to comply?