Today’s education finance research isn’t designed to meaningfully shape policy.

Despite a substantial investment—over $800 billion annually—and top-billing in state budgets and stated priorities, best-practices for how to fund our schools are unclear for advocates and policymakers. The consequences of bad policy for school funding impact everyone from taxpayers to students. To investigate what stands in the way of smart, evidence-based school finance policy, we asked researchers and policymakers to share their insights.


Read about the problems we’re trying to fix.

Research agenda

Read about the issues that we’re focused on.

Funding opportunities

See our latest Request for Proposals.

There is a lack of actionable research being conducted in the field.

Each year, local communities and state legislators make decisions related to how much money to allocate to school districts, and from where to raise the taxes necessary to support their investment. States across the country have dramatically different models through which to do so. While we have spent decades debating whether “money matters” there is a scant evidence base to help guide the important yet intricate detailed funding decisions.

of advocates say they were able to find research to support recent changes to their state funding structures
1 %
of researchers think their work will actually affect policy decision making
1 %

There are substantial barriers and insufficiently developed pathways to support more expansive school finance research.

Although K-12 education is one of the largest cumulative annual investments in the US, the education finance research field suffers from a lack of financial support, useful and reliable data, and interdisciplinary/cross organizational communities of practice.

of federal research budget went to school funding studies between 2017-2022
10 %
of all researchers say that access to more funding would improve their work
1 %

There is inadequate access to, and interpretation of, existing evidence for policy audiences.

Even the limited policy-relevant research related to this issue is buried in the research community—often showcased only at academic conferences, and published in abstruse language in paywalled journals. These barriers make it difficult for advocates and policymakers to either access or understand the limited evidence that is available to guide important decisions.

of researchers believe their work is accessible to policymakers and advocates
1 %
of advocates say they don't have time to read and/or can't access research behind paywalls
1 %

There is much to do to strengthen the education finance field.

The implications are vast, as school funding policy has substantial effects on social inequality, resource equity, investment efficacy, and spending efficiency.

Researchers and policymakers clearly enumerated the challenges they face in their work. While the issues are substantial, they present a roadmap we can follow to make the necessary advancements. To improve the policies that regulate how we fund our schools we need to: support new research that answers key, policy-relevant questions; establish new pathways and supports to expand the research community; and, ensure that research is accessible to policymakers and interpreted for their use.