How much money to spend on schools — and where to spend it is an ongoing and sometimes heated debate. These decisions are affected by elected officials at all levels of government – local, state and federal.
Depending on the state and community, how much each school receives is not often available to the public. Sometimes schools serving more low-income families get less money, other times they get more. It’s not always clear how the funding decisions were determined, and because they aren’t always shared, this leaves parents and communities confused and dissatisfied with the education and services offered.
That’s about to change. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires districts to report spending by school. That data should start to become available in 2019. Once each school’s budget becomes public, families might put more pressure on districts to give their school its fair share. (Chalkbeat.org, 2017)
The Every Student Succeeds Act passed in December 2015 and governs the United States K-12 public education policy. The law replaced its predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
ESSA represents a change in federal education policy that gives states greater flexibility—and greater responsibility—to make decisions about the policies and practices to support all students’ success and close achievement gaps. ESSA maintains the commitment of its predecessor, NCLB, to using data to examine what is working for students—and what is not—to meet states’ education goals.
ESSA will change the way school districts report their finances:
- Annually publish actual per pupil expenditures for each school
- Provide transparency about how each district is using its resources and allow for comparisons between schools and across school districts
- The report card will also include other information including: the professional qualifications of teacher; National Assessment of Educational Progress score; and where available and beginning with the 2017 report card, information about post-secondary attainment
Providing this data requires the ability to identify, allocate and report actual expenditures such as teachers’ salaries and benefits, shared staff costs, centrally purchased learning materials and other resources for each school in the district.
ESSA requires that report cards be widely accessible to the public, including on-line and in language that parents can understand, so school districts must rethink how they publicly present education data.
Paper-based budgeting systems and spreadsheet software simply can’t organize the financial information and deliver the data and formats that ESSA report cards require.
Questica’s K-12 budgeting, performance and data visualization solutions deliver all of the necessary tools to comply with ESSA reporting requirements, while also offering a high level of configurability and integration to a wide variety of ERP systems.
Through Questica’s K-12 budgeting platform, school districts can gain granular insight into their funding by streamlining data from multiple sources and eliminating error-prone and labor-intensive spreadsheets. The web-based platform allows schools to track operating and capital project budgets, and provides comprehensive tools for calculating expenses associated with staff salaries and benefits. Questica Budget allows users to generate reports based on various criteria and categories and this flexibility is invaluable given the ESSA requirements.
Questica Performance allows schools to establish, track and manage the long-term goals and measurements of interim progress for all students. This tool includes the ability to establish measures, define performance targets or objectives and track and report performance towards meeting these objectives. With data feeding from multiple sources including Questica Budget, the Questica Statistical Ledger and other external data sources, Questica Performance allows schools to consolidate and manage all performance related information and metrics in a single solution.
In response to the emerging trend of public accountability and engagement, Questica’s public sector-focused budget software experts developed OpenBook, a powerful data visualization tool. OpenBook allows financial and other data to be brilliantly visualized in an array of graphs. With descriptive text, informational pop-ups, filtering and sorting. So schools can share their information with boards, faculty, parents and more. And the best part, it fully integrates with Questica Budget. With OpenBook’s responsive design, data can be shared through social media, embedded in charts on websites, and accessed through mobile devices.
If you would like to find out how we can help your school district comply with ESSA reporting requirements and deliver transparency to stakeholders, schedule a demo of Questica solutions today.