Marsh leads study to improve equity of resources in California districts

New grants expand research on Local Control Funding Formula

By Ross Brenneman

Dr. Julie Marsh

California implemented the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) in 2013, with the promise that school districts would have more flexibility over spending and be better able to match money with high-needs students. But three years later, reports suggest that there are still a great number of unknowns about how well the formula is working.

The Hewlett and Stuart Foundations have announced a combined $650,000 in grant money that will be used to fund the Local Control Funding Formula Research Collaborative, a group of scholars dedicated to understanding the implementation of LCFF throughout California and its attempt to improve equity. This new effort builds on prior work that many of these scholars have conducted over the past two years.

“To date, much of the information we have about LCFF implementation comes from limited media accounts and reports from advocacy groups,” says Julie Marsh, USC Rossier associate professor of education and co-principal investigator for the project. “Our hope is that this research will provide state and local decision-makers with the objective, nonpartisan information they will need to adapt and improve the performance of their schools, teachers and students as LCFF implementation unfolds over time.”

California has budgeted $88.3 billion for pre-K-12 education this coming school year.

With the new grant funding, the LCFF Research Collaborative will be able to enhance study around how districts allocate resources; improve equity; engage communities; and implement the Common Core State Standards, a major priority for the state.

The LCFF Research Collaborative project is operated out of Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), an independent, nonpartisan research center based at Stanford University that operates in partnership with the University of Southern California and the University of California, Davis. Marsh, the faculty director of PACE at USC, and the broader team will be assisted by postdoctoral fellow Michelle Hall (PhD ’16). The new grants will be added to a smaller planning grant provided by the Kabcenell Foundation.

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For media inquiries, please contact Ross Brenneman at rossbren@rossier.usc.edu or (213) 740-2327.