The state-of-the-art approach takes the best of all the other methods and combines them into a new model.
This approach selects research findings on student achievement frequently seen in high-achieving schools,
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identifies all the components needed for those research-identified teaching and learning strategies, determines
a cost basis for each of the strategies, and then decides what an adequate spending base for the school
should be. This model makes the decision at the school level; it does not represent the school district average.
The approach draws on research findings that link several instructional practices to increased student
performance, includes some of the best thinking and data in education, and provides a funding level that allows
the school to use schoolwide strategies that state-of-the-art researchers and practitioners affirm are most
New Jersey has used the state-of-the-art approach in response to its ongoing state supreme court
challenge to its public education finance system. The 1998 state supreme court decision, Abbott v. Burke,
found that the state’s revised funding formula based on the state-of-the-art approach provided adequate
funding because it allowed sufficient monies for schools to adopt and finance the most expensive
comprehensive school designs.
The fiscal adequacy issue is a dominant force in school finance and will continue to play a role in future
court challenges. The issues of equity and adequacy are two sides of one coin. One side asks if we are
treating children fairly. The other side asks if we are doing enough.