The Ohio Speaker’s Task Force on Education and Poverty began its important work more than two years ago. It spent 15 months collecting information, examining data and hearing from experts. On Tuesday, roughly one year after its last meeting, it issued a report. Well, it’s not exactly a report, lacking the expected focus and clarity. It is more of a compilation of what it learned and the materials it gathered, some 560 pages.

State Rep. Robert Cupp, who headed the task force, sees the result as giving lawmakers “a greater understanding of the effects that growing up in poverty has on student achievement.” In a statement paired with the release, the Lima Republican said that “going forward, these insights will be helpful as policymakers work on effective ways to lift the academic achievements of all students and thereby help provide a pathway out of poverty and toward economic and personal success.”

In that way, it is worth looking closely at some of the nine recommendations of the task force. If they do not carry the desired precision and substance, they are helpful in the direction they take.

The first advised school districts to examine methods for providing or expanding “wraparound health and social services to students where poverty has a substantial presence.” This involves ensuring the presence of such services as mental health counseling and primary health care on site.

This worthy, even indispensable, concept is reinforced by recommendations to “work closely with health-care stakeholders” to achieve “positive school climates, culture, and needed supports for students” and to form partnerships with “community-based organizations and use creative tools for behavioral management.”

Another recommendation calls for expanding the availability of quality early childhood education “to families in all areas of the state.” The task force proposes “holding districts accountable for recruiting and developing teachers ... who have an understanding of the barriers poverty can create.” It advises maintaining high academic standards and expectations “for all students” and convening stakeholders to study which evidence-based programs are most effective in closing the achievement gap.

The task force proposes a study to measure the return on investment of such approaches supported by state dollars.

All of these concepts deserve backing, and as the final item suggests, the necessary support won’t be cheap. What should prove persuasive is the research consistently showing that investments made upfront yield dividends in long run in the form of more productive lives and fewer social costs.

In short, money does matter in education — if the dollars are spent wisely. Gov.-elect Mike DeWine understands as much in view of his proposal for an increased commitment to high-quality child care and early education. Yet that is just a start if the state truly wants to broaden opportunity or address such inequities as spending more overall in the classrooms of wealthy schools than those mostly with children facing the trauma of poverty.

Howard Fleeter of the Ohio Education Policy Institute reports that in the recent state report cards, the lowest performing school districts had eight times as many economically disadvantaged students as the top performers.

That is the achievement gap. If the Speaker’s Task Force on Education and Poverty did not produce an ideal call to action. The essence is there in the materials and its recommendations. The question remains whether the Statehouse is willing to follow the logic of this report and other analyses, making the required commitment to elevate Ohio by narrowing the education divide.