The Adequacy of Educational Cost Functions: Lessons From Texas Academic Article uri icon


  • Adequacy studies based on cost functions have come under attack. A recent Texas court battle featured two cost function studies that reached markedly different conclusions about the additional funding needed to meet designated performance goals. Some critics see such disparities as indicators of a general futility in the whole education cost function enterprise. We argue that the more appropriate conclusion is that it is critically important to demand best-practice techniques from any analyst of educational costs. This article uses the Texas litigation studies as a lens through which to explore best practices in the estimation of educational cost functions. The analysis highlights five key decisions that researchers must make when using the cost function methodology in an educational setting and explores the implications of the various possible choices using recent data on public schools in Texas. As the analysis demonstrates, some common practices in cost function analyses of education are not best practices, and these deviations from best practice can have a significant impact on the estimated cost of an adequate education. Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

published proceedings

  • Peabody Journal of Education

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Gronberg, T. J., Jansen, D. W., & Taylor, L. L.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • Gronberg, Timothy J||Jansen, Dennis W||Taylor, Lori L

publication date

  • January 2011