A study published in the journal Nature finds that public school funding tends to grow faster than state funding.
It also found that states tend to spend more per pupil than local districts.
“This suggests that local funding growth is likely to be driven by an increase in local spending on early education,” the authors wrote.
Funding for state and local early education initiatives is also generally more elastic.
“The authors argue that state funding is unlikely to become more elastic over time as states increase the amount of state funding for early education.”
A few key findings: In 2011-12, the state spent $4.2 billion on early childhood education, but in 2016-17, it spent $6.8 billion, according to the report.
The growth in state funding over the past decade is driven by two factors: increased federal spending and state funding growth in recent years.
The authors of the study noted that the growth in federal spending over the last decade is due in part to the growth of early childhood spending, which grew more slowly in the years after the Great Recession.
“These two factors are likely to continue to affect state funding,” the report concluded.
They also found a trend in state-level funding growth that is largely tied to growth in spending per pupil, rather than spending per student.
States that grew more rapidly in federal funding per pupil tended to spend higher per pupil per year than states that grew less quickly in federal dollars per pupil.
“More states will need to raise funds for early childhood programs in the future if they are to maintain or even increase their per pupil funding,” said co-author Paul Cascio, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Kellogg School of Management.
Cascia said this trend “underscores a fundamental challenge facing states in their effort to raise funding for their early childhood systems, which is that they have to manage funding growth while still maintaining quality.”
The study is the latest in a series of studies by the National Center for Education Statistics looking at funding for state early education, which has grown dramatically in recent decades.
In its most recent report, released in September, the researchers found that state and federal funding growth between the years 2000 and 2014 increased at an annual rate of 7.1%, compared with an annual growth rate of 1.6% in the same period in 2015.
This growth has been driven in part by higher levels of federal funding and increased levels of state spending.
“While state funding has grown at an accelerated rate over the previous 20 years, it is important to note that there has been little or no state funding increase for local school districts,” the researchers concluded.