Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wednesday Search Challenge (Dec 1, 2010): Finding data you can use to compare school district per-pupil spend

Here's the situation:  Suppose you're a parent who is trying to understand the way money is allocated on a per-student basis in California.  What you'd like to understand is this:  How much money, on average, is spent per-student in each school district in California?

And, you'd like to see the historic trends since 1990.

Challenge:  You're looking for an assembly of data for all the California school districts, per-student spend, per year.  Ideally, you'd like a graph that lets you compare your school district with all the others in the state.

Yes, I know you can buy such data.  But your challenge is to do this little research task on a typical school budget.. which is to say, for free.

Start your search engines!

1 comment:

  1. If I were looking for WA statistics, I would try the OSPI site, so my first search was for:

    OSPI California

    But didn't turn up anything. So I went instead with:

    public schools California

    and chose the link for the California Department of Education.

    From there it was mostly browsing. I went to the "data and statistics" tab, went from there to "Ed-Data", found some state reports for expenditures that were too general, and saw that the source for the data was listed as:

    Source: California Department of Education, School Fiscal Services Division.

    So I went back to Google and pasted that in, and ended back on the CDE site, but on the fiscal services section:

    From there I selected "Financial" and continued through the link for "Current Expense of Education & Per-pupil Spending" and ended up, a click or two later, here:

    Cost of education reports are at the bottom, provide a spreadsheet that compares by district, and goes back to 1998-1999.

    For older results, I went back to play around more on Ed-Data. Under district reports, I found the "compare districts" report, which goes back to 1992, and lets you compare districts at least in the same county.

    Not a lot of search, though plenty of site exploration and a little trial and error. But all in all, most of the info requests in about 15 minutes, so not too bad.