The Department of Education announced Puerto Rico as the first state to pilot a new student-centered funding system under the Every Student Succeeds Act, a successor to the controversial No Child Left Behind Act, nationally criticized by many educators for relying too heavily on test scores.

As school districts and community colleges experience a decline in state appropriations, funding has become a critical topic.

Dr. Jeffrey Hanks of Weatherford ISD, Deann Lee of Millsap ISD and Weatherford College officials have all referenced declining state appropriations as topics of importance when it comes to future funding for schools.

"Puerto Rico's use of a student-centered funding system will help to ensure those with the greatest need receive the most support," Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said Monday. "Amid the hardships and challenges following Hurricane Maria, I am pleased to see Puerto Rico rethinking school and putting students' needs above all else."

The new system can focus more on student outcomes, Puerto Rico Secretary of Education Julia Keleher said.

"Puerto Rico's ability to provide a quality education for its youth depends on how we fund K-12 education and the way funds are allocated,” she said. “This pilot allows us to take a more scientific approach and track the relationship between strategic investments and future learning gains. We are committed to implementing effective solutions that benefit our students and ensure accountability to our families."

Puerto Rico has designed a funding system where it will use extra funds to support students from low-income families, language learners and students in rural schools, according to the DOE website.

Other school districts have a July 15 deadline to participate in the pilot program for implementation of the 2019-20 school year.

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