Contact IREPP
Institute for Research on Education Policy & Practice
Stanford University
520 Galvez Mall, 5th Floor
Stanford, CA 94305
Tel: 650.736.1258
Fax: 650.723.9931

Getting Down to Facts:
A Research Project Examining California’s School Governance and Finance Systems

"Getting Down to Facts" is a research project of more than 20 studies designed to provide California’s citizens with comprehensive information about the status of the state’s school finance and governance systems. The overall hypothesis underlying this research project is that improvement to California’s school finance and governance structures could enable its schools to be more effective.

Over an 18 months period from September 2005 to March 2007, the Getting Down to Facts Project brought together an extraordinary array of scholars from 32 institutions with diverse expertise and policy orientations. It represents an unprecedented attempt to synthesize what we know as a basis for convening the necessary public conversations about what we should do. “Getting Down to Facts” was specifically requested by the Governor’s Committee on Education Excellence, former Secretary of Education Alan Bersin, the President pre Tem of the California Senate, the Speaker of the California Assembly, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The project is not designed to recommend specific policies.  Rather it aims to provide common ground for understanding the current state of California school finance and governance and for a serious and substantive conversation about necessary reforms. 

The project addressed three broad questions:

  1. What do California school finance and governance systems look like today?
  2. How can we use the resources that we have more effectively to improve student outcomes?
  3. To what extent are additional resources needed so that California's students can meet the goals that we have for them?


Getting Down to Facts researchers took a two-pronged approach to uncovering the most valuable information for California policymakers. First they looked broadly at California’s school finance and governance system in order to identify the most important factors that facilitate or hinder the effective use of education resources in California. Second, they targeted a number of crucial areas that a priori appeared particularly important to address in an in-depth exploration of school finance and governance.  The researchers aimed to make the best possible use of existing research findings, identifying important holes in existing research and determining whether there were empirical studies that could be performed in the given timeframe to fill some of these holes.   The new empirical work stems from this approach.  As a result, the studies each provide a strong review of the literature with targeted new empirical additions. Click here for a full list of studies.


This independent research project was made possible by grants from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, and The Stuart Foundation.