Measuring the Alignment between States’ Finance and Accountability Policies: The Opportunity Gap


  • Matthew R. Della Sala Purdue University
  • Robert C. Knoeppel Clemson University



educational finance, educational equity, accountability policy


The research described in this paper expands on attempts to conceptualize, measure, and evaluate the degree to which states have aligned their finance systems with their respective accountability policies. State education finance and accountability policies serve as levers to provide equal educational opportunities for all students – scholars have called for the alignment of education finance and accountability policies as a means for states to meet the demands of educational adequacy. A metric titled the “opportunity gap” was developed, calculated, and tested to represent the degree of misalignment between the equity of states’ finance systems and the intended equity of student performance outcomes defined in accountability policies. School finance and student performance data from nine states were collected for this analysis. Findings indicated that none of the states were delivering simultaneous equity in finance and accountability systems – none of the states provided both equity of finance inputs and equity of student performance outputs. Implications for future research on measuring the alignment between finance and accountability policies are provided by the authors.


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Author Biographies

Matthew R. Della Sala, Purdue University

Matthew R. Della Sala is an Assistant Professor of Educational Studies at Purdue University. His research interests center on education finance and policy with attention to the effectiveness of states' policies in providing a system of public education aligned with philosophical concepts like equity, adequacy, and equality of educational opportunity.

Robert C. Knoeppel, Clemson University

Robert C. Knoeppel, PhD is Associate Professor and Chair of the Faculty of Leadership, Counselor Education, and Human & Organizational Development at Clemson University. His research interests focus on the intersection between leadership, finance policy, and accountability policy.




How to Cite

Della Sala, M. R., & Knoeppel, R. C. (2015). Measuring the Alignment between States’ Finance and Accountability Policies: The Opportunity Gap. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23, 61.