Publications

Publications
This groundbreaking study uses the largest database of information on special education spending and staffing ever assembled to uncover significant variance in how districts staff for special education. The report concludes that if the high-spending districts studied reduce their staffing in this area to the national median the public could save $10 billion and offers clear recommendations for improving special-education quality and efficiency.
Education budgets are tight and state and district leaders must make tough decisions about where to save. But is the public willing to accept cuts? If so, where? According to the results of this new survey, many Americans are open—selectively open—to dramatic changes in how school districts do business.
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts and mathematics represent a sea change in standards-based reform and their implementation is the movement’s next—and greatest—challenge. Yet, while most states have now set forth implementation plans, these tomes seldom address the crucial matter of cost. This report estimates the implementation cost for each of the forty-five states (and the District of Columbia) that have adopted the Common Core State Standards and shows that costs naturally depend on how states approach implementation.
The "new normal" of tougher budget times is here to stay for American K-12 education. So how can local officials cope? This policy brief, by Mike Petrilli, provides a useful tool for navigating the financial challenges of the current school-funding climate, complete with clear dos and don'ts for anyone involved in or concerned with local education budgets.
More than 1.7 million American children attend what we've dubbed "private public schools"—public schools that serve virtually no poor students. In some metropolitan areas, as many as one in six public-school students—and one in four white youngsters—attends such schools, of which the U.S. has about 2,800.
When it comes to public-sector pensions, writes lead author Mike Lafferty in this report, "A major public-policy (and public-finance) problem has been defined and measured, debated and deliberated, but not yet solved. Except where it has been." As recounted in "Halting a Runaway Train: Reforming Teacher Pensions for the 21st Century," these exceptions turn out to be revealing—and encouraging. As leaders around the country struggle to overhaul America's controversial and precarious public-sector pensions, this study draws on examples from diverse fields to provide a primer on successful pension reform. Download to find valuable lessons for policymakers, workers, and taxpayers looking for timely solutions to a dire problem.
To what extent have Ohio's leaders met the challenges and opportunities before them in K-12 education? What needs to happen next?
In this "Ed Short" from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Amanda Olberg and Michael Podgursky examine how public charter schools handle pensions for their teachers. Some states give these schools the freedom to opt out of the traditional teacher-pension system; when given that option, how many charter schools take it? Olberg and Podgursky examine data from six charter-heavy states and find that charter participation rates in traditional pension systems vary greatly from state to state. When charter schools do not participate in state systems, they most often provide their teachers with defined-contribution plans (401(k) or 403(b)). But some opt-out charters offer no alternative retirement plans at all for their teachers. Read on to learn more.
Statewide survey of Ohio school district superintendents (and other education leaders) on the most critical issues facing K-12 education in the Buckeye State, including budgets, school effectiveness, and troublesome laws.
This policy brief lists fifteen concrete ways that states can "stretch the school dollar" in these difficult financial times. It is written by Marguerite Roza, senior data and economics advisor at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Michael J. Petrilli, executive vice president at the Fordham Institute.

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