Per-Pupil Expenditures in Illinois’ Largest School Districts

Blogs, Letters & Testimonials

February 12, 2020

The analysis was based on new per-pupil spending figures required under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

In the next brief in a series analyzing within-district, per-pupil spending reports required by federal law released today by Education Reform Now, in Illinois, the two biggest takeaways are variability in funding among schools with similar concentrations of low income and nonwhite students and a largely mixed record of equitable funding. 

The analysis is based on per-pupil figures that all states must report for the first time under a new federal requirement in the Every Student Succeeds Act. Previously, states only had to report district-level spending, which masked inequities at the school level. 

Illinois schools with the highest concentration of nonwhite students spend substantially per student, on average, as schools with the lowest concentrations of nonwhite students in six of the state’s 10 largest districts.

More encouragingly, in six of Illinois’ ten largest districts, schools with larger concentrations of low-income students receive more per-pupil than schools with smaller concentrations of low-income students. 

However, the report finds significant variation in spending, across schools with similar concentrations of poor and nonwhite students, suggesting a potential lack of intentionality on the part of districts around funding based on prioritizing race and poverty at the exclusion of other factors. 

Yet, some districts—including Chicago—buck the negative trends, providing additional recourses to traditionally underserved students. 

These findings were reviewed by the Illinois State Board of Education and was shared with district officials in all 10 districts mentioned in the report as part of the vetting process. 

The full report and district-specific findings are available here.