What Does It Cost to Educate California’s Students? A Professional Judgment Approach

What is the cost of providing all California public school students with access to the California content standards and achieving appropriate levels of proficiency in accordance with standards established by the California Department of Education?

This report presents the results of the professional judgment component undertaken by AIR to answer the question posed above. The discussion summarizes the major elements of this “costing out” study. In the course of this endeavor, AIR obtained input from professional educators and convened two 3-day meetings with highly qualified California educators to estimate the cost of an “adequate” education.

The main results of this study suggest that a 38% increase in 2016-17 operational spending would have been necessary to ensure that all students had the opportunity to meet the goals set by the State Board of Education. This amount is substantially lower than the amount projected in AIR's 2006 adequacy study for California, which estimated that an additional 53% to 71% increase was necessary. This suggests that California has made substantial progress toward providing an adequate education in recent years.

Image of Jesse Levin
Principal Economic Researcher