Advance Illinois’ new Equity Dashboard takes a deeper dive into Illinois’ new, equitable, school funding formula. The dashboard has four pages – State Landscape, District Comparison, Student Demographics, and District Lookup – that allow users to explore the current levels of funding as well as the initial impact of new funding appropriated in FY18 under the Evidence-Based Funding for Student Success Act. We developed this dashboard to provide insight into how new funds were allocated on April 5, and to demonstrate the impact of a more equitable funding formula.
Scroll down for more detail on our analysis.
Our State Landscape page ranks school districts by their levels of adequate funding. Under Illinois’ new funding formula, each school district receives an “adequacy target,” which represents the amount of funding it should spend to provide its students with a high-quality education. The adequacy target is calculated based on a number of factors, including student demographics and regional living costs (a district with more low-income students needs more resources to cover services than a district with fewer low-income students). Comparing current funding levels to adequacy targets provides us with a “percent of adequacy” and helps us understand how well districts are funded based on their needs.
The vast majority of school districts—713 districts representing 1.7 million students—are currently underfunded. For many of these districts, the gap to adequate funding is substantial: 439 school districts have less than 70% of the funding they need to provide adequate supports to their 1.2 million students. The lowest have just 46% of the funding they need.
To ensure that every school district receives adequate funding, Illinois would need to invest an additional $7.1 billion into education. Investing $2.8 billion would ensure that every district has at least 80% of the funding they need to support students, a substantial step in the right direction for Illinois’ neediest districts.
Our District Comparison page examines current funding as well as the distribution of new funding with three key graphics:
1. Mapping adequacy levels shows us that inadequate funding is a problem for school districts across the state. In the state map, each school district is color coded by its level of adequate funding. The map shows that in every corner of the state, there are districts with less than 60% adequacy. At the same time, the majority of adequately funded school districts are in the northern third of the state. (Viz Tip: Try playing with the filters at the right to highlight districts with different demographics).
2. An equitable formula would distribute the most dollars to the districts with the lowest adequacy levels, and our new formula does just that. Our tree map (to the right of the state map) creates a box of every school district. The color of the box represents a district’s level of adequate funding and the size of the box represents how much new per pupil funding a district is receiving in 2018 under the new formula. Illinois’ neediest school districts, those with the lowest adequacy levels, have the largest boxes in the chart because they are receiving the most new per pupil funding. This means our formula is working equitably and our neediest districts are starting to benefit from it. (Viz Tip: To get a better picture of how much new funding districts with adequate funding receive in the new formula, slide the % Adequacy filter to 100%.)
3. Our formula supports districts with varying student demographics, but is targeting most new dollars to districts with below average property wealth. Our bubble charts at the bottom of the dashboard highlight different district characteristics. Each circle represents a school district, with color showing a demographic indicator and size showing the district’s new per pupil funding. Looking at the property wealth bubble chart shows us that most new funding is going to darker yellow districts with below-average property wealth (less than $6,363 local resources per pupil). This makes sense because districts with significant local resources are much more likely to have adequate funding than districts with fewer local resources. (Viz Tip: Explore the filters at the right to probe into the relationship between property wealth and funding adequacy).
Illinois has a long way to go to achieving adequate funding for all students, but investing more money into the new funding system will distribute dollars to Illinois’ most under-resourced students.
Equity is multifaceted and in order to have an equitable formula, we need to ensure that Illinois’ historically under-resourced students (Black and Latino students, low-income students and English learners), are benefiting from additional resources under the new formula. Our Student Demographics page provides adequacy levels for different student groups, highlighting which groups are under-resourced. By selecting a district demographic, you can compare student groups to their peers in districts with different race, income and property wealth demographics.
Currently, English learners, Black, Latino, and low-income students have less than 70% of the funding they need. Those groups are the recipients of the most new per pupil funding.
By exploring districts’ racial makeups, we see that across the board, Illinois has historically funded student groups in majority-White school districts better than their peers in districts with more students of color. For example, a Black student in a majority-minority district receives just 64% of the funding she needs compared to a Black student in a whiter district who receives 76% of her needed funding. With the new formula, under-resourced students in majority-minority districts will receive additional funding.
Exploring income shows us that student groups in districts with more low-income students tend to be less funded than their peers in districts with fewer low-income students. For example, a low-income student in a district that is majority low-income has, on average, 62% of the funding he needs, compared to his peer in a less low-income district who has 81%. Because of this inequity, the formula distributes more dollars to student groups in low-income school districts.
Exploring districts’ property wealth shows some student groups have larger adequacy gaps than others. A Black student in a district with below-average property wealth (less than $6,363 per pupil) has an adequacy level of 61%, but his peer in a wealthier school district is only a bit better at 69%. A white student in a district with below-average property wealth has an adequacy level of 63%, much worse than his peer in an above-average district with an adequacy level of 97%. Across the board, student groups in poorer districts are less resourced than peers in wealthier districts and will receive more new funding as a result.
Our District Lookup page allows you to select a school district and see how its demographics and local resources compare with state averages. You will also be able to see how much per pupil funding the district currently receives, how much new funding it will receive under the new formula, and how much more funding it needs to serve its students.
Contact Alex Baptiste at email@example.com for more information.