School finance reform and educational equity

Project Summary:

Improving school quality is a well-established way to improve student learning. But one specific approach is understudied: school finance reform. This project will examine state-level school finance reforms, intended to increase funding for schools serving poor children, over the past several decades. If school financing matters, then reforms that equalize funding will also tend to equalize student achievement across districts. This researcher will study the effects of these reforms on the absolute and relative test scores of students in low-income school districts. Policymakers can then understand if these reforms boost overall scores as well as reduce the inequality of outcomes.


Jesse Rothstein, a member of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth's Research Advisory Board, is a public and labor economist. His research focuses on education and tax policy, and particularly on the way that public institutions ameliorate or reinforce the effects of children’s families on their academic and economic outcomes. Within education, he has conducted studies on teacher evaluation; on the value of school infrastructure spending; on affirmative action in college and graduate school admissions; and on the causes and consequences of racial segregation. He has also written about the effects of unemployment insurance on job search and labor force participation; the role of structural factors in impeding recovery from the Great Recession; and the incidence of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Rothstein's work has been published in the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Journal of Public Economics, the Chicago Law Review, and the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, among other outlets. He has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MPP from the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC-Berkeley, and he is a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. In 2009-2010 he served as a Senior Economist for the Council of Economic Advisers and then as Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Selected Publications