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K-12 Governance Structures

October 30, 2021
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Brittany Whitley


  • Based on test scores and the need for college remedial education (e.g. literacy, numeracy), many high school graduates in Missouri may not be adequately prepared to enter college or the workforce.
  • States and districts who have restructured K-12 education to increase local control of budget decisions have not reported significant improvements to student performance.
  • Decentralization can disproportionately impact minoritized and low-income families. Some funding models, such as California's Local Control Funding Formula, aim to reduce inequities by providing additional funding to high-need districts.


  • While this brief focuses specifically on the centralization of decision-making authority, a number of additional factors including total funding levels, school climate and resources, food security and housing discrimination impact student outcomes and postsecondary opportunities. The relative extent to which each of these factors impacts student achievement is unknown.
  • The extent to which districts place policymaking and budget authority in schools varies across decentralization models. It is therefore difficult to determine the specific parameters of (de)centralization that influence equity and student performance.
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