Updates to education data tool
June 25, 2018
OCPA recently updated its Oklahoma Education Spending and Revenue data tool to include two new features: the ability to sort between nominal dollars and inflation-adjusted dollars and to change between three different student counts.
Sorting between inflation-adjusted dollars and nominal dollars allows for a broader picture of education spending and how it has changed throughout the years. Unadjusted for inflation, you can find that total spending on education grew by $1.4 billion. But, when adjusting for inflation, education spending has only grown by $300 million since 2006.
While adjusting for inflation is a common practice for many economic and fiscal researchers, there are some problems that arise when using general inflation metrics. First, inflation can vary greatly among different regions of the country. This means using a national measure can cause local distortions.
Inflation also differs across different industries and goods. For example, the price of many technological items has fallen over the last decade, while the overall price of goods has risen in the United States. A specific problem for adjusting government spending numbers is that government relies on taxpayers to fund its expenses. Taxpayers are not given the luxury of adjusting their own wages along with price changes, so there is debate whether government should be able to cite inflation as a justification to raise taxes and increase spending.
The data tool upgrade also makes available two new student counts:
Originally, all per pupil calculations used in our data tools were based on what is called the “October student count.” The “October student count” is the metric used by the Office of Accreditation to count annual enrollment numbers. The “October student count” is a snapshot of how many students are enrolled in Oklahoma public education on October 1 of the current school year.
The ADA number, however, is far different from the “October student count” number. For example, the ADA in 2017 was 649,013, but the October count number that year was 693,710. OCPA believes showing all available measures allows for the greatest transparency for K-12 spending in Oklahoma and can provide better state-by-state comparisons.
The new student counts and the inflation feature allow users to have a comprehensive understanding of Oklahoma education spending and better engage in the conversation on funding for the education system.