PACE Event

Designing Categorical Grants to Support Student Learning

As part of the California Legislative Analyst's Office's February 2009 budget revisions, school districts were granted more flexibility in the use of some categorical grants. These actions offer an exceptional opportunity to reform California’s confusing system of categorical grants. Flexibility in the use of categorical grant funding creates a paradox because categorical programs are established to focus school resources on high priority programs. Allowing alternative use of these funds is both counter-productive and suggests lack of focus in the mix of categorical programs available.

This seminar provides an overview of the purposes of categorical grants, discussed issues pertaining to local v. state control over the use of educational resources and described in Lawrence O. Picus' recent research on modes to structure categorical grants to improve student performance now in the in the Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA). Picus offers suggestions for ways California’s myriad of confusing categorical programs can be reformed to focus on student learning.

Picus' research focuses on school finance and the allocation and use of educational resources to improve student learning. He has conducted school finance adequacy studies in a number of states, and helped design the school funding systems in Wyoming, Arkansas and North Dakota. Ohio is currently considering a funding system based on Picus' work.

John Mockler will offer commentary on Picus' presentation.

Speakers include:

  • Larence O. Picus, Vice Dean for Faculty Affairs and Professor of Education Finance and Policy, USC Rossier School of Education
  • John Mockler, President, John Mockler and Associates

Moderated by David N. Plank, Executive Director, PACE