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Bowser Administration Announces Release of 2020 UPSFF Study

Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Study examines four key components of the public school funding formula, District's best tool for achieving equity

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Bowser Administration announced the release of the 2020 Uniform Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) Study. This work was completed by Afton Partners, LLC during Fiscal Year 2020, following Mayor Bowser's allocation and the Council of the District of Columbia's approval of funding for a study on four key components of the UPSFF. Initiated in October 2019, the 2020 UPSFF Study includes an in-depth analysis of the students covered by the at-risk weight, the consideration of school-level at-risk concentration funding, the structure of the English Language Learners (ELL) weight and the cost drivers of the formula's foundation level.

The UPSFF is the District’s single best tool for achieving funding equity for young people. This study—both its undertaking and its delivery—represents the Bowser Administration’s commitment to providing all students with the resources they need to achieve success and build family-sustaining careers. Per DC Official Code §38–2911, OSSE will convene the 2020 UPSFF Working Group beginning in August to solicit input and recommendations regarding revisions to the formula. This body of work will strengthen and ground conversations about the UPSFF and school funding among our city’s education stakeholders for years to come.

“The District and the needs of students have changed since this study began,” said Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn. “We enter into these conversations around school funding knowing that our decisions must be shaped by the social and economic impacts of coronavirus as well as our renewed sense of urgency to address persistent challenges of anti-Black and racist systems that underlie too many of our institutions. Each step of this process is firmly-grounded by the shared goal of doing what is best for kids."

DC’s public education system continues to celebrate significant growth in the past decade with a recognition that there is much work to be done. With equity is the guiding principle, this study aims to influence student outcomes the District expects to realize from the strategic allocation of taxpayer resources. Among the 2020 UPSFF Study’s key findings:

  • Among students designated at-risk, performance data shows that students specifically designated as over-age or CFSA are most significantly behind both students not designated at-risk and their at-risk student peers;
  • Compared to those with a single at-risk factor, students with multiple at-risk factors tend to underperform on the PARCC standardized test; and
  • For ELL students, the highest achievement gaps for math are in grades 6-8, following a significant decline in proficiency from grade 5 to 6; ELA gaps are highest in grades 6-10, with proficiency levels mixed for all grades.

The UPSFF does not explicitly include race as a formula component; however, some components of the formula are highly correlated with race in the District. The at-risk weight, for example, provides additional resources for students who meet at least one of the at-risk definition's characteristics, none of which are explicitly race-based, though this funding is most targeted toward Black and brown students. Therefore, any change increasing the at-risk weight's allocation provides an increase for these students as well.

“For the first time, OSSE included finance data on the DC School Report Card, and we believe that this will foster greater transparency and engagement of school funding in the District," said State Superintendent Hanseul Kang. "This important study provides more information on how LEAs and schools can better direct resources to students who need the most supports.”

The full 2020 Uniform Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) Study is available here.

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