Valentina is a legislative analyst for StudentsFirst, a bipartisan grassroots movement working to improve the nation’s schools.
The most recent data shows that the state of Ohio spends more than $23 billion annually on education, but Ohio students are still struggling academically, with 67% of fourth graders and 64% of eighth graders reading below proficiency. It’s clear that Ohio is investing in its education programs, but it’s not clear whether these resources are being used in the most effective manner.
As I recently wrote, Ohio would greatly benefit from a school letter grading system, which holds schools accountable, empowers parents with information and choices, and improves student outcomes. To maximize the full impact of a school grading system, however, Ohio must pair this information with a strong fiscal transparency and accountability system so that policymakers and the public can understand the impact of their spending decisions. By developing a statewide, five-star rating system that links resources and investment decisions with student and school outcomes, policymakers can make better decisions regarding school funding.
However, transparency and ratings mean little without accountability. Strong but measured interventions, such as changing who makes resource decisions, must be permitted for schools and districts found to be chronic underperformers. Over time, a robust fiscal transparency and accountability system will lead to improved spending practices, which in turn will lead to increased student achievement and, in times of financial decline, will allow administrators and policymakers to make informed spending cuts.
A meaningful five-star...