Arkansas 2003: Picus Odden and Associates worked in Arkansas from 2003 to 2006. Following an Arkansas Supreme Court Ruling in November 2002 that found the state’s school finance system was not consistent with the state’s constitution, the legislature hired the firm to conduct an adequacy study for the state. In that costing out study we relied on our Evidence-Based approach, but supplemented it with a professional judgment review prior to the development of the final school prototypes.
We worked collaboratively with an Interim Joint Committee on School Finance, which led to the Legislature successfully enacting a school finance system that met constitutional review by the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Our work in Arkansas also included a number of recommendations regarding the implementation of a new pay system for teachers designed to help in recruiting and retaining effective teachers and to link the salary structure more closely to effective instructional practice and improved student learning. Combined with substantial teacher pay increases (to bring teachers up to market rates of pay), this model would have made Arkansas a leader in alternative approaches to teacher compensation. Although the program has not been implemented in Arkansas to date, active discussions continue.
Arkansas 2006: In 2006, we completed another study for Arkansas to help evaluate the way local school districts used the additional resources that were provided to them through the legislation and appropriations that resulted from our 2003 study. That work had four major components.
- We recalibrated the per pupil foundation funding level that was developed to allocate resources to school districts. The approach we developed continues to be used by Legislative staff today to estimate the foundation funding level. The link for this paragraph now is the 2003 teacher compensation report; replace it with the link you have for #3 below, which is the 2006 recalibration study
- We updated and revised the Evidence-Based portion of our earlier study improving the accuracy of the estimated resources needed for students to meet Arkansas’ proficiency standards.
- We conducted an intensive field-based analysis of 107 Arkansas schools. The purpose of this study – which was the major part of our work – was to ascertain how school districts and local schools chose to use the new resources they received beginning in 2004-05. The hope was that the results of this study would help local educators better focus their resources and efforts on educational strategies that research shows are effective in improving student performance.
- In addition, we conducted an extensive analysis of the expenditure patterns of school districts before and after the infusion of new funds. We also conducted a statewide web-based survey of all school districts to develop a deeper understanding of trends across the state.