HB 234 – Increasing the Weight for Compensatory Education

Testimony of IDRA – Presented by David Hinojosa, J.D., National Director of Policy Before the Texas House Public Education Committee, July 24, 2017

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Chairman Huberty and Members of the Committee:

Thank you for allowing the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) the opportunity to present written testimony of its research and analysis on increasing the funding weight for compensatory education.

IDRA is an independent, non-profit organization that is dedicated to assuring equal educational opportunity for every child through strong public schools that prepare all students to access and succeed in college. Since its founding in 1973, IDRA has conducted extensive research and analysis on Texas school finance, including cost studies on programs for English learners and other students, which have been used to help inform policymakers for the past five decades.

Strong, recent research shows that increased funding by the states has contributed to both improved student performance and lifetime outcomes, especially for underserved students (Jackson, et al., 2016; Lafortune, et al., 2016).

IDRA Recommendation: Increase the compensatory education weight to .25 to reflect the true costs of providing essential opportunities for low-income students and students at-risk of grade retention or not graduating. This also will help reduce recapture for school districts educating low-income students, as their WADA will increase and in turn, their property value/WADA will decrease.

History of Funding- Compensatory Education

In 1984, the legislature convened a school finance working group to study school finance, including the weights. After examining the essential services and programs required to assist EL and economically disadvantaged students (ED) students in meeting state expectations and standards for students, the group recommended a (.4) weight for both bilingual education and compensatory education. While the legislature rejected the proposed weights and arbitrarily set the bilingual weight to (.1) and the compensatory weight to (.2), importantly the legislature went to a weighted system tying the additional funding to the regular program allotment.

In 2004, the state commissioned a cost-function study that analyzed low student passage rates on the state assessment. The state study concluded that it would take an additional $1,248 to assist an EL student who failed to pass the state assessment and an additional $1,960 to assist an ED student who failed to pass the state assessment. The state did not adjust the weights upward in response to the study (Dietz, 2004).

Performance and Need

Over 30 years later, the weights remain unchanged but the standards and expectations for students and schools continue to evolve. IDRA’s review of recent data reflects significant gaps between ED and non-ED students and EL and non-EL students (Appendix). In spite of successful experiences of individual ED and EL students in classrooms across Texas, the data show significant challenges facing our schools today. With such great and immediate need, there appears no reason why the weights should not increase significantly for the next biennium.

Potential Impact of Basing Cost of Expert Research and Studies

Increasing the weight could lead to much better support and meaningful opportunities for school children. In 2012, IDRA conducted an analysis of how much more revenue would be generated per WADA for school districts if the weights were increased to (0.4). The analysis below shows that school districts across Texas and their school children would benefit substantially.

This additional funding could help school districts provide a high-quality education to all learners so long as the funding is carefully monitored. Some research-based examples of programs and services follow.

Compensatory Education
Stipends for teaching in schools with higher populations of ED students
Accelerated learning and high-quality tutoring
Socio-economic school integration plans
Professional development for all teachers on cultural competency
Professional learning communities
Block scheduling
Smaller class size
Family engagement
High quality pre-K


Effect on Recapture

In addition, if the weights increase as a result of the study, so too would school districts’ WADA counts. This would result in increased funding. Additionally, it would provide more accurate property values per WADA for which revenue levels are determined. Below is a general example of how more accurate WADA counts could affect a district’s recapture.

Scenario I Recapture at Copper Penny Level ($319,500)

If I had 5,000 ADA and 20% EL and 60% ED, my WADA would be estimated at

1,000 EL x .1= 100 WADA

3,000 ED x .2= 600 WADA

 700 WADA + 5,000 ADA= 5,700 WADA

If the weights for the bilingual allotment and compensatory allotment increased to .25:

1,000 EL x .25= 250 WADA

3,000 ED x .25= 750 WADA

1,000 WADA + 5,000 ADA= 6,000 WADA

So if my property value was 400,000/WADA under the old weights, based on $2,280,000,000 total property value (5700 WADA x 400,000), it would now be $380,000/WADA under the .25 weights (2,280,000,000/6,000).

My recapture at the copper level of $319,500 would be reduced roughly 25% under this scenario (400,000-319,500/380,000).

IDRA thanks this committee for the opportunity to testify and stands ready as a resource. If you have any questions, please contact IDRA’s National Director of Policy, David Hinojosa, at david.hinojosa@idra.org or 210-444-1710, ext. 1739.


Cortez, A. (2012). Report of the Intercultural Development Research Association Related to the Extent of Equity in the Texas School Finance System and Its Impact on Selected Student Related Issues, Prepared for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund in Texas Taxpayer & Student Fairness Coalition v. Williams, No. D-1-GN-11-003130, Travis Co. District Court (San Antonio, Texas: Intercultural Development Research Association). http://www.idra.org/images/stories/IDRA_School_Finance_Equity_Report_08162012.pdf

Dietz, J.K. (2004). West-Orange Cove Consol. Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Neeley, Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, 2004 WL 5719215 (Travis Co. Dist. Ct.).

Jackson, C.K., Johnson, R., & Persico, C. (2016). The Effects of School Spending on Educational and Academic Outcomes: Evidence from School Finance Reforms, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 131(1), pp 157-218.

Lafortune, J., Rothstein, J., & Whitmore Schanzenbach, D. (2016). School Finance Reform and the Distribution of Student Achievement, NBER Working Paper No. 22011 (Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research).

The Intercultural Development Research Association is an independent, non-profit organization led by María Robledo Montecel, Ph.D. Our mission is to achieve equal educational opportunity for every child through strong public schools that prepare all students to access and succeed in college. IDRA strengthens and transforms public education by providing dynamic training; useful research, evaluation, and frameworks for action; timely policy analyses; and innovative materials and programs.