Tennessee arrived at its current education finance system 30 years ago, and the fundamental structure of the complex Basic Education Program formula has changed little since then. A new analysis from SCORE can help inform thinking and guide discussions about how to reorient the system toward students and supporting their individual learning needs.

SCORE has released Funding For Learning: An Analysis Of K-12 Education Finance In Tennessee, which offers four student-focused principles to guide changes in our education funding formula to meet modern expectations and student needs:

Driven by student need: The formula should be driven by the needs of students. Distribution of funds can be more effective and fair when a formula includes dollars to meet each student’s unique needs. 

Flexibility and responsibility: The formula should remain a funding formula and not a spending plan for districts. Districts know their communities best and should have the ability to respond to local needs. This autonomy should be paired with clear, easily accessible spending data so families, taxpayers, and voters know how their resources are being used.

Transparency and predictability: The formula should allocate predictable dollars each year, making it easier for districts to plan spending year to year. Education leaders should know what allocations they will receive based on the students they are serving and understand what their expected local funding contributions will be.

Modernization: The formula should reflect the needs of students today. Rather than an outdated list of resources that needs to continually be updated, the formula should be structured around student need to better reflect ongoing changes in education, technology, and the economy.

“Updating the way we fund education is an essential step for Tennessee to continue its journey of academic progress,” SCORE President and CEO David Mansouri said.

We hope you’ll download the report to learn more.