Research in Progress

Collaborative Working Papers Site:

New Stuff

Forthcoming Reports

Baker, B.D., Miron, G. (in progress) Understanding the “Business” of Chartering. National Education Policy Center.

Baker. B.D., Farrie, D., Sciarra, D. (in press) Mind the Gap: 20 years of progress and retrenchment in school funding & achievement gaps. Princeton, NJ. Educational Testing Service

Baker, B.D., Farrie, D., Sciarra, D. (2015) The Changing Distribution of Educational Opportunities. In Opportunity in America. Princeton, NJ, Educational Testing Service.

Working Papers

Weber, M., Baker, B.D. (2015) Do For-Profit Managers Spend Less on Schools and Instruction? A national analysis of charter school staffing expenditures


This article takes advantage of a recently released national data set on school site expenditures to evaluate spending variations between traditional district operated schools and charter schools operated by for-profit versus nonprofit management firms. Prior research has revealed the revenue-enhancement, private fundraising capacity of major nonprofit providers (Baker, Libby and Wiley, 2015). For-profit providers may face greater pressure to reduce operating expenses. As such, we hypothesize that regardless of average differences in staffing expenses between district and charter schools, school site staffing expenditures are likely to be lower in for-profit than in nonprofit managed charter schools. Further, school site instructional staffing expenditures may be lower yet. Applying national, then state and labor market level models to compare spending for schools of similar size, serving similar grade ranges and students with similar attributes (income status, special education and language proficiency status), we find these assumptions largely to be true. Specifically, on average across all settings (global model) we find that charters spend less per pupil on instructional salaries compared to districts; further, for-profit charters spend less than non-profits. Further, for-profit charters spend statistically significantly less (p < 0.05) on instructional salaries, compared to district schools, in Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. In all cases except Michigan, the difference in instructional spending compared to district schools is greater for for-profits than nonprofits.

Baker, B.D., Weber, M. (under review) State School Finance Inequities and the Limits of Pursuing Teacher Equity through Departmental Regulation

Current Draft: Baker.Weber.TeacherEquity.June20_15


New federal regulations (State Plans to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators)[1] place increased pressure on states and local public school districts to improve their measurement and reporting of gaps in teacher attributes across schools and the children they serve. The regulations largely ignore within versus between district distinctions, leaving states to navigate this terrain. The analyses herein evaluate the extent to which disparities in district and school level spending measures are associated with disparities in district and school level teacher equity measures, using data sources and measures cited in the department’s recent policy guidance to states. Additionally, we ask whether inequality in “access to excellent educators” is greater in states where school funding inequalities are greater. For larger districts only (>10 schools), district spending variation explains an important, policy relevant share of school staffing expenditures in 13 states (NH, NE, ND, VA, ME, NJ, RI, PA, CO, MT, MN, MA, ID). In many states, including Illinois and New York, there exists a nearly 1:1 relationship between district spending variation and school site spending variation. In California, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, district spending is positively associated with competitive salary differentials, average teacher salaries and numbers of certified staff per 100 pupils. And in each of these states, district poverty rates are negatively associated with competitive salary differentials, average teacher salaries and numbers of certified staff per 100 pupils. As such, regulatory intervention without more substantive changes to state school finance systems will likely achieve little.


Baker, B.D., Levin, J. (under review) Rethinking “Costing Out” and the Design of State School Finance Systems: Lessons from the Empirical Era in School Finance

Current Draft: Baker.Levin.AdequacyRevisited.June30_15


During the great recession state school finance systems suffered an unprecedented reduction in general state aid, resulting in lower overall spending. By 2014, most states’ school spending levels still had not rebounded to 2007 levels (Leachman & May, 2014). During this same period political rhetoric surrounding school finance reform sharpened regarding claims that money really isn’t all that important to school quality anyway, backed by sweeping claims of non-productive, exorbitant increases to public education spending and staffing over the preceding decades (see for example, Gates, 2011). The current political environment surrounding state school finance systems and dramatically cut-back and stalled status of those systems has brought to an end a period we identify herein as the empirical era of school finance. During this empirical era, running from the mid-1990s through 2007 state school finance systems arguably became more grounded in both assumptions and empirical analyses linking desired outcome objectives with estimates of the costs of achieving those outcomes. In this article, we revisit the empirical era of state school finance policy, applying a critical lens to existing cost studies to provide guidance for strengthening and justifying future analyses of education costs to inform state school finance policy reform. We begin with a brief overview of evolving conceptions of educational equity, adequacy and equal opportunity, which provide the framework for understanding cost estimation. Next, we provide a brief summary of the evolving literature on the positive effects of substantive and sustained state school finance reforms. That is, despite widespread rhetoric that schools spent more and more and achieved less and less over previous decades, the preponderance of rigorous empirical evidence supports the contrary. Next we provide a review and discussion of alternative methods for estimating education costs with emphasis on how those methods can be integrated toward strengthening reliability and validity. Finally, we discuss vignettes from the empirical era of school finance, and how state’s past experiences linking empirical evidence to policy design provide insights for the path forward.

Weber, M., Baker, B.D. (near completion) Does Charter School Management Type Affect School and Classroom Resource Allocation?

Journal & Law Review Articles in the Past Few Years

In Press 1.        Baker, B.D. (2015) School Finance and the Distribution of Equal Educational Opportunity in the Post-Recession U.S. Journal of Social Issues2.        Baker, B.D., Libby, K., Wiley, K. (2015) Charter School Expansion & Within District Equity: Confluence or Conflict? Education Finance and Policy
2014 3.        Baker, B.D. (2014) America’s Most Financially Disadvantaged Local Public School Districts. Journal of School Business Management. 26 (2) 10-19[i]4.        Baker, B. D. (2014). Evaluating the recession’s impact on equity & adequacy of state school finance systems. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 22 (91) Retrieved [date], from        Green, P.C., Baker, B.D., Oluwole, J. (2014) How the Kansas Courts Have Permitted and May Remedy Racial Funding Disparities in the Aftermath of Brown. Washburn Law Journal6.        Green, P.C., Baker, B.C., Oluwole, J. (2014) Having it Both Ways: How Charter Schools try to Obtain Funding of Public Schools and the Autonomy of Private Schools. Emory Law Journal 63 (2) 303-338
2013 7.        Baker, B.D., Taylor, L., Chambers, J., Levin, J., Blankenship, C. (2013) Adjusted Poverty Measures and the Distribution of Title I Aid: Does Title I Really Make the Rich States Richer? Education Finance and Policy 8(3) 394-4178.        Baker, B.D., Green, P.C., Oluwole, J. (2013) The legal consequences of mandating high stakes decisions based on low quality information: Teacher Evaluation in the Race-to-the-Top Era. Education Policy Analysis Archives
2012 9.        Baker, B.D., Welner, K.G. (2012) Evidence and Rigor: Scrutinizing the Rhetorical Embrace of Evidence-based Decision-making. Educational Researcher 41 (3) 98-10110.      Green, P.C., Baker, B.D., Oluwole, J. (2012) Legal implications of dismissing teachers on the basis of value-added measures based on student test scores. BYU Education and Law Journal 2012 (1)11.      Baker, B.D. (2012) Re-arranging deck chairs in Dallas: Contextual constraints on within district resource allocation in large urban Texas school districts. Journal of Education Finance 37 (3) 287-315
2011 12.      Baker, B.D. (2011) Exploring the Sensitivity of Education Costs to Racial Composition of Missouri School Districts. Peabody Journal of Education (special issue)13.      Baker, B.D., Welner, K. (2011) School Finance and Courts: Does Reform Matter, and How Can We Tell? Teachers College Record 113 (11) p. –14.      Fuller, E., Young, M.D., Baker, B.D. (2011) Do Principal Preparation Programs Influence Student Achievement through the Building of Teacher Team Qualifications by the Principal? An Exploratory Analysis. Educational Administration Quarterly 46 (5)


In Press 1.        Baker. B.D., Farrie, D., Sciarra, D. (in press) Mind the Gap: 20 years of progress and retrenchment in school funding & achievement gaps. Princeton, NJ. Educational Testing Service
2014 2.        Baker, B.D. (2014) Improving the Grade: How Localities (in States that Penalize School Absences) Can Support Student Health, School Attendance, and Educational Achievement.        Baker, B.D. (2014) Not Making the Grade: How Financial Penalties for School Absences Hurt Districts Serving Low-Income, Chronically Ill Kids        Baker, B.D., Levin, J. (2014) Educational Equity, Adequacy, and Equal Opportunity in the Commonwealth: An Evaluation of Pennsylvania’s School Finance System. American Institutes for Research/William Penn Foundation.        Baker, B.D. (2014) America’s Most Financially Disadvantaged School Districts and How They Got That Way. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.        Baker, B.D., Farrie, D., Sciarra, D. (2014) Is School Funding Fair? 2013 Edition. Education Law Center of New Jersey, Rutgers Graduate School of Education & Educational Testing Service

7.        Baker, B.D. (2013) Evaluating New York State’s School Finance System. New York State Association of Small City School Districts.

2013 8.        Baker, B.D. (2013) Poverty, Children’s Health & Public School Funding: Consequences of conditioning state aid for schools on attendance. ChangeLab Solutions9.        Coley, R., Baker, B.D. (2013) Poverty and Education: Finding the Way Forward. ETS Center for Research on Human Capital and Education. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service      Baker, B.D., Bathon, J. (2013) School Finance 2.0: Crafting Responsible State Policies for the Financing of Online and Virtual Schooling. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center
2012 11.      Baker, B.D., Corcoran, S.P.(2012) The Stealth Inequalities of School Funding: How Local Tax Systems and State Aid Formulas Undermine Equality. Washington, DC. Center for American Progress.      Baker, B.D., Sciarra, D., Farrie, D. (2012) Is School Funding Fair? Second Edition, June 2012.      Baker, B.D., Libby, K., & Wiley, K. (2012). Spending by the Major Charter Management Organizations: Comparing charter school and local public district financial resources in New York, Ohio, and Texas. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Retrieved [date] from      Clifford, M., Condon, C., Greenberg, A., Williams, R., Gerdeman, R.D., Fetters, J., and Baker, B. (2012). A descriptive analysis of the principal workforce in Wisconsin (Issues & Answers Report, REL 2012–No. 135). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest. Retrieved from      Baker, B.D. (2012) Revisiting the Age Old Question: Does Money Matter in Education. Shanker Institute.
2011 16.      Baker, B.D., Welner, K.G. (2011) Productivity Research, the U.S. Department of Education, and High-Quality Evidence. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Retrieved [date] from      Baker, B.D. & Ferris, R. (2011). Adding Up the Spending: Fiscal Disparities and Philanthropy among New York City Charter Schools. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Retrieved [date] from

Policy Brief on State Aid in New York (Summer 2011) NY Aid Policy Brief_Fall2011_DRAFT6

Connecticut School Finance Reports




A Few Old, Hard to Find &/or Out of Print Items

Private Management of Public Schools in Baltimore (1996) eai

History of the Rising State Role in Kansas and How it Led to Embedded Inequities Rising State Role in Kansas-R2_formatted

CHPT1.Micropolitan Schooling

CHPT2.Micropolitan Schooling

CHPT3.Micropolitan Schooling