Statement: New Study from The Education Trust–West Finds More Equitable Funding but Persistent Access Gaps Three Years into LCFF

(OAKLAND, CA) A few years into California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), school district funding is more equitable but access gaps persist according to The Steep Road to Resource Equity in California Education: The Local Control Funding Formula After Three Years, a new research study by The Education Trust–West. Through comprehensive data analysis, the report finds that LCFF has reversed inequitable revenue gaps that used to exist between the highest and lowest poverty school districts. The revenue gap was at its widest point right before LCFF, with the highest poverty districts receiving $829 less per student in 2012-13. The analysis found that funding three years into LCFF was more equitable, with the highest poverty districts receiving an average of $334 more per student in 2015-16.

While this research finds that funding has become more equitable, it did not find evidence that this funding has yet translated into more equitable opportunities for students in low-income schools. The highest poverty schools still have less access to crucial school support staff, and a rigorous and broad curriculum – in some cases these gaps have widened. Low-income students have, for example, significantly less access to counselors and librarians and courses like Calculus, Physics, Computer Science, and Music. Our research could not fully assess how equitable spending is at the school site level, since budget information is not reported in a standardized or centralized way.

“While we fully support the intent of the law, LCFF’s success hinges on how we implement the formula and how districts think about using the whole budget to support equity.” said Ryan J. Smith, Executive Director of The Education Trust–West. “The law revolutionized how we fund districts, now it’s time that we focus on closing opportunity gaps for low-income students and students of color.”

Despite policy and economic constraints, some districts are using the full budget and leveraging personnel to support equity. These districts are shifting dollars and staff to higher need schools, and addressing institutional barriers to opportunities. The report concludes with recommendations for policymakers and district leaders to reaffirm California’s commitment to LCFF, improve funding transparency, and use LCFF to expand equitable opportunities in school districts.



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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.