A Comparative Study of Student-Based Funding and School-Based Decision Making in San Francisco and Oakland Unified School Districts

Funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, AIR conducted a descriptive study in San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) on the Weighted Student Funding (WSF) policy, sometimes referred to as student-based funding (SBF), for the Regional Educational Laboratory-West.

Though the number of districts with SBF-type policies has grown, the literature on the implementation and possible impacts of these policies is limited. To address this, AIR produced a report that describes the implementation of SBF policies in two California school districts—San Francisco Unified School District and Oakland Unified School District. This report, A Tale of Two Districts and appendices, address the following research questions:

  • What are key considerations that San Francisco and Oakland have faced when designing and implementing their respective SBF policies? What are the perceived impacts of these districts’ decisions?
    Have San Francisco and Oakland distributed and utilized their resources in different ways after adopting SBF policies?
  • Based on San Francisco and Oakland’s experiences, what are some “lessons learned” for other district and state policymakers interested in an SBF policy?

This study describes and compares SBF systems in two case study districts, reports the perceptions of key constituencies on these policies, and presents data on the patterns of resource allocation before and after implementation.