Topics: High school, Education, Finance Pages: 6 (1154 words) Published: July 15, 2015

Average Daily Attendance versus Average Daily Membership
Laura Bristle
Grand Canyon University: EDA 535
February 18, 2015

When it comes to funding schools, there are several schools of thought regarding how to dispense funds fairly and effectively for the each school within the district and state. There are several ways to monitor enrollment and have it linked to meaningful information in order to appropriately disburse funds. In this paper Average Daily Attendance and Average Daily Membership will be discussed and it will be decided which is a better instrument to measure for state funding that is 100% state tax based. The advantages, strategies to equalize funds, and steps to safeguard against changes will all be explored to determine the more accurate appropriate way to determine funding for schools. ADA or ADM

To understand and determine which measurement tool will be the most consistent and beneficial, one first needs to understand what the terms Average Daily Attendance and Average Daily Membership mean. Simple put Average Daily Attendance (ADA) is the total number of days a student is in attendance divided by the total number of days in the school year (Student Enrollments & State School Finance Policies, 2012). This means that each day a student is absent, the ADA score goes down. In contrast, Average Daily Membership (ADM) is a specific count of enrollment at a particular school gathered at differing times throughout the school year (Student Enrollments & State School Finance Policies, 2012). In Arizona, ADM drives school funding and is used to collect data for the local, state, and federal governments (Student Enrollments & State School Finance Policies, 2012). If I were to choose one of these methods to assess funding levels for every school in the district, I would choose Average Daily Membership (ADM). This measurement of enrollment instead of attendance is more meaningful to the realities of the school system.

Average Daily Membership is a truer indicator to how much money is needed by a school to run. Since ADM does not rely solely on the number of students in attendance each day, it is more generous with the funding (Average Daily Membership, 2009). This is particularly helpful to low income and inner city schools and district. In areas that have low or inconsistent attendance issues, the ADM allows them to get a fair amount of funding. In contrast, if ADA was used in these areas, schools in low income areas would be falsely reduced in funding based on low attendance that is outside of the schools control. In Arizona the ADM is measured as the total enrollment throughout the first 100 days of school and is written into the state statutes (A.R.S. § 15-901[2]). According to a senate report, “this method of counting students was adopted in 1980 when the state engaged in school finance reform, fundamentally changing how Arizona provided funds for public schools. ADM is one of the foundations of the school finance formula; as a district or charter’s ADM grows, so does its equalization base” (Average Daily Membership, 2009, p. 1). The advantages of the ADM model are endless; it is by far superior to the ADA model, which can present skewed information. Equalizing Funds

There is some argument in the relevancy of taking the time to equalize funding between school districts. McGuire stated that the real issue with schools is school quality and that the there has to be buy in from the community in order to improve schools (1994). “Indeed, some argue that differences in education spending result largely from different communities' appetites for education and that beyond a minimal effort to ensure taxpayer equity, there is no compelling reason to equalize spending among school districts,” (McGuire, 1994). This implication is true, but someone has to give first. We can not expect parents and communities to buy into a failing school that has not done them well in the...

References: A.R.S. § 15-901(2)
Average daily membership. (2009, February 3). Retrieved February 18, 2015, from;_ylu=X3oDMTEzZzd0ZnBtBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMgRjb2xvA2dxMQR2dGlkA1lIUzAwMl8x/RV=2/RE=1424304545/RO=10/RU=
McGuire, K. (1994). The current policy debate in school finance: Why does it matter?. Clearing House, 68(2), 71.
Schnaiberg, L. (1998). A dose of competition. Education Week, 17(17), 100.
Smith, S., & Pettersen, J. (2002). School Funding--What 's Enough?. State Legislatures, 28(8), 16.
Sparks, S. D. (2013). School funding. Education Week, 32(28), 5.
Student Enrollments & State School Finance Policies. (2012, February 25). Retrieved February 17, 2015, from
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