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Abstract

Although a relatively new idea in the U.S., weighted student funding (WSF) for individual schools has a long history in the Netherlands. This country of about 16.5 million people has been using a version of WSF for all its primary schools (serving children from age 4 to 12) for 25 years. In this article we describe and evaluate the Dutch system and explore what insights there might be for the U.S., taking into account the very different cultural and normative contexts of the two countries. We find that, compared to those with few weighted students, Dutch schools with high proportions of weighted students have almost 60 percent more teachers per pupil as well as more support staff per teacher. Even these large resource advantages, however, are not sufficient by themselves to eliminate all quality shortfalls in the high-weight schools, where quality is measured by school policies and practices. We conclude that weighted student funding for schools within districts in the U.S. is not likely to deliver the same highly progressive funding patterns as in the Netherlands because of the complex, multilayered U.S. education system and the absence of a political consensus in favor of generous weights. © 2011 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.