School Funding

What is equitable and adequate school funding?

Equitable school funding is about providing students with the resources they need to achieve and succeed in school. It is important to note that equitable funding is not the same thing as equal funding. Because students enter school with a wide range of skills and needs, a one-size-fits-all funding formula would be unlikely to help all students reach college and career readiness. Rather than providing students with identical resources, an equitable funding formula adjusts for students’ unique needs.  For example, some students, such as English language learners, low-income students, and students with special needs, require additional support to reach proficiency.

Adequate school funding ensures that there are enough resources for each and every student. An equitable and adequate funding formula ensures that sufficient funds are distributed effectively among all schools.

Why does it matter?

Students’ zip codes shouldn’t determine the quality of their education. Equitable and adequate school funding are mechanisms for helping to close achievement gaps between low-income students and their wealthier peers and for helping all students reach their potential to become healthy and productive citizens. While Illinois enacted a new funding formula in 2017, it has a long way to go on both fronts. Its school funding formula ranks 49th in adequacy and 50th in equity.  To transform schools and improve student outcomes, we must make this important change. After all, to invest in students is to invest in Illinois’ and the country’s future. States with greater growth in educational attainment also enjoy greater growth in productivity and worker compensation.

What is Advance Illinois doing?

  • We are a founding member of the Funding IL’s Future coalition, a group of superintendents, teachers, parents and civil rights leaders formed in 2012 that successfully advocated for the passage of a new, more equitable school funding formula in 2017. Funding Illinois’ Future held more than 40 town halls around the state in 2017 and garnered more than 100 news stories about its work and more than 50 opinion pieces. There are a wealth of other 2017 analyses of the new school funding bill available here.
  • We authored Funding Expectations, a 2013 report which addresses the regressive way in which Illinois has been underfunding its public schools in recent years and makes short-term and long-term recommendations on how the Illinois legislature can resolve this issue.
  • We released Understanding the Math of Funding Inequity, a 2016 analysis of legislative proposals evaluating how well they address components of an equitable K-12 funding system in Illinois.
  • We were the first to speak out about how the practice of pro-ration harms students by regressively cutting the most funding from schools serving the state’s most vulnerable students, and we testified in front of the Illinois State Board of Education and the General Assembly about this issue.


Learn about Funding IL’s Future and efforts to achieve equitable school funding across our state.


In this analysis, Advance Illinois evaluates legislative proposals on how well they address components of an equitable K-12 funding system.

Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card, a report by the Education Law Center and the Rutgers Graduate School of Education, measures the fairness of the school finance systems in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.


The report issued by Illinois Education Funding Advisory Committee reviewed the state’s existing pre-kindergarten to 12th grade education funding system and proposed changes to the state’s education funding system.

America’s Most Financially Disadvantaged School Districts and How They Got that Way from the Center for American Progress examines some of the most financially disadvantaged school districts in the country.