Supporting Students with Continued Absences

What does research tell us about how to help schools support students while absent and encourage them to come to school?


Reducing District Budgets Responsibly

Susanna Loeb | Annenberg Institute at Brown University
Nora Gordon | Georgetown University
Marguerite Roza | Georgetown University
Eric Taylor | Harvard University

Breaking Down the Issue

  • State revenues will drop for districts in many states. The extent of revenue loss will vary considerably across districts and could be partially mitigated by the federal response.
  • If the federal government does not offset state revenue losses, districts will need to cut spending on salaries and benefits.
  • School spending cuts negatively affect students’ educational outcomes and apparently neutral budget choices often have disproportionate effects on traditionally underserved students.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic creates substantial new demands on schools that will likely require a reallocation of resources.

Strategies to Consider

  • Some budget reductions affect student learning and well-being more than others, and the choices often come with tradeoffs. Considering the tradeoffs carefully can help reduce the negative effects of budget cuts.
  • Delaying pay raises or furloughing non-working staff can reduce layoffs. Research shows layoffs have negative consequences for students.
  • Economic downturns can provide opportunities for districts to bring new, differently qualified employees into the workforce.
  • Economic downturns can create incentives for multiple actors to negotiate changes that might have been too difficult during better economic times.

Strategies to Avoid

  • Policies that base layoffs on teacher seniority rather than effectiveness (often known as “Last-in, First-out” or LIFO) come with a series of negative consequences.
  • Although shifts in retirement benefits could have longterm benefits, these shifts are unlikely to solve current problems.