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“Do Illinois Funding Policies Affect the Achievement of Low-Income Students?”

Author: Alejandra Diaz

Department: UIC Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE

Abstract: According to The Chicago Public Education Fund, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) only receive 66% of the funding students need, and student enrollment drives 48% of total school funding within the district. CPS’s Fiscal Year of 2020 fell short of meeting student needs, it is estimated that it would need an additional $2 billion annually to fully meet the standards of the Illinois General Assembly enacted law of 2017, SB0001. This law redesigned the school funding formula within Illinois to distribute resources based on individual district needs and is intended to balance out achievement and funding gaps in schools. A literature review was conducted from 2016 to 2021, using peer-review journals, U.S. Census Bureau data, Illinois General Assembly reports, Illinois State Report Card, and CPS databases. This study highlights three public high school districts within Illinois. Three public high schools were selected based on regional levels and student demographics. The data was used to compare and contrast achievement levels based on “on track” vs. “off track” levels as it pertains to retention, graduation rates, and standardized test scores. Results indicate that school districts with a higher percentage of low-income students obtain lower achievement levels. Districts' reliance on property taxes is impacted by the amount of low-income students, as the larger the amount of low-income students, the lower the reliance a district has on property taxes. The 2017 Evidence-Based Funding formula is funding low-income districts at a higher rate, but this is still not enough to combat achievement level gaps across school districts in Illinois. It is recommended to equitably distribute local property tax funds to all schools throughout Illinois and to increase evidence-based funding for schools with the highest levels of low-income students.

Keywords: Chicago Public School, Networks, Achievement Gap, Retention, Graduation Rates, Standardized Test Scores, Grade Point Average, Attendance, Correlation, Local, State, Federal, Funding, Evidence-Based Funding, Illinois