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New ESSA School-Level Expenditure Reporting Requirements Further Promote Transparency

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction recently transitioned to a new federal financial reporting requirement. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires all public schools to report per-pupil federal and non-federal costs, and for the DPI to collect and report this information. The new reporting requirement is intended to further financial transparency while helping schools make decisions to promote fairness, equity, and academic success for all students.

A new DPI video helps to explain how the data is broken down, a little history on how this reporting requirement came to be, and important things to note when using the information to compare schools.

Reported costs are broken down between federal or state and local funding, along with exclusions for things outside of the day-to-day activities schools provide. How costs are assigned for each school and the district/local education agency as a whole along with exclusions is a local decision based on local circumstances.

This information will be used to compare schools, but we know that comparisons will not be perfect. Many factors such as school enrollment, location, or health insurance costs, will affect per-pupil spending differences among schools.

As stated in the video, “this new reporting requirement is really about one basic question: can we do a better job of not only how, but where we spend public school dollars to improve equity and outcomes for all?”

For more detailed information about the ESSA per-pupil reporting requirements, visit the DPI ESSA SLR Resources web page.

Access the WISEdash Public Portal for 2018-19 ESSA per-pupil spending data.