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 Selected Research & Readings

Who Should Be in Charge When School Districts Go into the Red? - State policies for assisting school districts in financial trouble are uneven and complex. This brief presents a menu of state responses when districts are insolvent or nearly so, arranged into a tiered sequence of interventions. These include low-impact collaborative supports, followed by financial management by experts who oversee and manage a district's financial matters. Finally, there is state takeover in which outside experts manage the entire district, not just its finances. (Dara Zeehandelaar, Victoria H. Sears and Alyssa Schwenk, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, August 2015)...

Return on Educational Investment - A retake of a 2011 effort, this report evaluates the productivity of major districts nationwide. The author found low productivity remains a problem and that some of the country's most affluent districts show a lack of productivity. He says some district's priorities are out of whack - Texas spends more than $1,000 annually per student on athletics. State approaches to improving fiscal effectiveness vary widely and states have failed to make fiscal equity a priority. This report is not without its critics. (Ulrich Boser, Center for American Progress, July 2014)...

The Money You Don't Know You Have for School Turnaround: Maximizing the Title I Schoolwide Model - Title 1's schoolwide model can be a powerful tool for improving student outcomes, but schoolwide programs haven't been used to their fullest potential. The problem is, many schools eligible for the schoolwide approach limit Title 1 spending because of misunderstandings about how the federal "supplement not supplant" requirement applies to schoolwide programs. They use Title 1 targeted assisted funds instead for individual at-risk students. This brief explains how schools operating a schoolwide model could use Title 1 funds for: turning around low performing schools, upgrading the curriculum, teacher support, school climate interventions, formative or interim assessments, expanded learning opportunities, and family or community engagement activities. (Mass Insight Education, State Development Network for School Turnaround)(Melissa Junge and Sheara Krvaric, Mass Insight Education and SDN, July 2013)...

Schools Under Stress: Pressures Mount on California's Largest School Districts - California's 30 largest school districts—which educate nearly 2 million students—are facing multiple stresses tied to the economic crisis at a state and national level, threatening their ability to provide a quality education to California's children. This report identifies eight "stress factors" that are affecting California school districts to varying degrees. The report is based on three surveys of the 30 districts conducted by EdSource in 2011 and 2012. (EdSource, May 2012)...

Comparability of State and Local Expenditures Among Schools Within Districts: A Report from the Study of School-Level-Expenditures - This report presents findings on how state and local education expenditures at the school level vary within school districts. The study does not examine compliance with the Title I comparability requirement nor does it examine the comparability of resources between districts. Rather, it focuses on the question of whether Title I schools and higher-poverty schools have comparable levels of per-pupil expenditures as non-Title I schools and lower-poverty schools in the same districts. (U.S. Department of Education, November 2011)...

Strained Schools Face Bleak Future: Districts Foresee Budget Cuts, Teacher Layoffs, and a Slowing of Education Reform Efforts - The report examines the extent to which federal stimulus and Education Jobs funds made up for district funding shortfalls, and the types of cuts being made to balance district budgets. In order to compensate for lost funding, districts are cutting staff – including teachers – and services and are slowing the progress on education reform. (Center on Education Policy, June 2011)...

Restructuring Resources for High-Performing Schools: A Primer for State Policymakers - While funding adequacy and equity must remain a priority for states, ensuring that limited resources are used as effectively as possible is paramount. States can face the challenge to set policies and promote action that will create the right conditions for change at the local level. ERS, with Education Counsel, identifies four areas in which state policymakers can make a big difference. (ERS, May 2011) ...

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