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Knowledge From the Field

Performance Pressure and Resource Allocation in Washington

Published: January 2008

Publisher(s): Center on Reinventing Public Education

Author(s): De Wys, Shelley; Jacob E. Adams, Jr.; Melissa Bowen; Allison Demeritt

Funder(s): Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

View Report (138 pages; 1.85MB; PDF)

Area of Focus: Educational Standards; Rural Education


Based on interviews with state, district, and school leaders, the report explores the extent to which school finance systems support student performance goals, the impact of heightened performance expectations on resource allocation decisions, and the constraints and influences on school finance decisionmakers. The report is based on case studies of five districts in Washington State, including one rural, largely Hispanic district that appeared to be performing better than predicted.

Key Findings and/or Recommendations

=Finance systems are antiquated, needlessly complicated, and do not support coherent instruction programs and allocation of resources needed to improve student performance.

=Student demographics, and the impact of mobility, poverty, and immigration, pose challenges to meeting performance standards.

=Political interests and union contracts influence resource decisions rather than research-based knowledge and effective resource use.

=Similar to other districts, the rural district made strategic efforts to increase teacher capacity and quality—e.g. by investing in training to use student performance data to improve teaching and by improving human resource policies (supervision and evaluation).

=Administrators in the rural district described the most strain in their relationship with the teachers union compared with other districts and felt that issues around the contract were one of the major problems plaguing the district.

Focus: Washington State

Subjects/Keywords: Finance System; Reform; Rural; Standards; Student Performance; Teacher Quality; Union

+ Successful strategy
= Observation
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