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Understanding the Missouri Foundation Formula

The Missouri Foundation Formula was passed in 2005 to help ensure that all of Missouri’s elementary and secondary education students have access to adequate educational resources.

The formula is used to establish a concrete spending target — the amount of money that should be spent (at minimum) in order to educate the average K-12 student in Missouri per academic year.

The four basic pieces of the Missouri Foundation Formula are:
· Weighted Average Daily Attendance
· The State Adequacy Target
· The Dollar Value Modifier
· Local Effort

Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA)
Weighted Average Daily Attendance accounts for the average daily attendance of students in each school district as compared to the total number of hours that each student could possibly be in school during that academic year in that district.

A detailed weighting system is then used to account for the fact that some students simply need more help (and in turn, require more resources from their districts) than others do to achieve the same academic and/or behavioral results.

The state has identified three categories of students whose attendance in schools is weighted: those on free or reduced lunches, those with individualized learning plans and those who are deemed limited in English language proficiency.

The State Adequacy Target (SAT)
Two terms are used in context of the State Adequacy Target and it’s important to understand the difference between them.

Adequacy means providing each student with an education that is “adequate”. In other words, adequacy accounts for meeting baseline educational needs.

Equity, on the other hand, means that each school district receives total funding that is fair relative to the total funding received by other districts.

The SAT helps the state to educate students adequately by funding districts equitably. This is where the concrete educational spending target that we mentioned in the first paragraph of this piece comes into play. When the Missouri Foundation Formula is fully funded, the SAT will ensure that each student in the state of Missouri receives (at minimum) the equivalent of the target education investment for that academic year.

For example, in Missouri, the target for 2013 and 2014 was $6,717.17 per student. When the Foundation Formula is fully funded, each student in the state will see a total investment in his or her education equivalent to at least $6,717.17 per academic year.

The SAT accounts for the cost of meeting all of the criteria of the Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP), which is the state’s accountability system for schools and school districts. (Read more about the MSIP here.)

To Be Continued…
Come Back for Understanding the Missouri Foundation Formula, Part II 

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