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Process adequacy: Successful school districts model

Dissertation
Author: Isaac Estrada
Abstract:
The purpose of this study was to examine how three successful high schools and districts in California allocate human and fiscal resources. This study sought to understand how successful high schools and districts serving a diverse student population link financial decisions to student achievement data. Three successful high schools and districts serving students enrolled in the Free and Reduced Price Lunch Program, the English Language Development (ELD) program, and minorities were the focus of this multiple case study. The three high schools and respective districts were systematically selected using multiple criteria including student achievement data from AYP and API reports, and student demographic information. In order to be deemed "successful" for this study, the districts and high schools needed to meet all criteria for AYP and demonstrate API growth for all subgroups. The primary sources of data collection were twelve interviews with school administrators and school board officials. The Superintendent, Chief Business Officer, a School Board Official, and a High School Principal from each of the three successful school districts were interviewed using a semi structured interview protocol developed by the authors of the project "Getting Down to Facts". The interview protocols were grounded on effective schools and educational adequacy frameworks. Key Terms: Adequacy Studies, Successful School Districts, Effective Schools, High Performing High Schools, Leadership K-12, Resource Allocation K-12, Educational Finance.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

SIGNATURE PAGE ......................................................................................................... iii

DEDICATION ................................................................................................................... iv

LIST OF FIGURES ........................................................................................................... ix

LIST OF TABLES ...............................................................................................................x

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ............................................................................................... xi

VITA ................................................................................................................................. xii

ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION ........................................................................ xiii

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................1 Overview ...........................................................................................................................1 Background of the Literature ............................................................................................2 Problem Statement ............................................................................................................6 Research Questions ...........................................................................................................7 Methodology .....................................................................................................................7 Significance of the Study ..................................................................................................8

CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE ..................................................11 Overview .........................................................................................................................11 Definitions of Adequacy .................................................................................................12 Adequacy Models ...........................................................................................................13 Successful School Districts Model ..............................................................................13 Cost Function Model....................................................................................................16 Professional Judgment Model ......................................................................................18 Whole School Reform Model ......................................................................................19 California Studies Applying Successful School Districts Model ...................................21 Advancements in Methodology ...................................................................................22 Factors Related to Student Achievement .....................................................................24 Standards Based Curriculum......................................................................................25 Coherent Instruction...................................................................................................26 High Quality Teachers ...............................................................................................28 Assessment and Data Driven Decisions ....................................................................30 Student Services and Interventions ............................................................................32 Theoretical Framework of Achievement Factors ......................................................33 Research Limitations ......................................................................................................35

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CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY .....................................................................................37 Overview .........................................................................................................................37 Justification for Case Study Research Strategy ..............................................................39 Logic of Design.............................................................................................................39 Multiple Sources of Evidence .......................................................................................40 Theory Guiding Data Collection ...................................................................................41 Research Design..............................................................................................................41 Research Questions ......................................................................................................42 Successful Schools and Districts Selection..................................................................42 Successful Schools and Districts Profiles ....................................................................45 District A ....................................................................................................................45 District B ....................................................................................................................47 District C ....................................................................................................................49 Data Collection .............................................................................................................51 Interviews ....................................................................................................................52 Participants ..................................................................................................................52 Electronic Records and Documents ............................................................................54 Data Analysis ..................................................................................................................55 Limitations ......................................................................................................................58

CHAPTER 4: RESULTS ...................................................................................................60 Introduction .....................................................................................................................60 Collaboration...................................................................................................................60 Stakeholder Involvement ..........................................................................................61 Teacher Collaboration ...............................................................................................63 District A .................................................................................................................64 District B .................................................................................................................65 District C .................................................................................................................66 District Wide Collaboration ......................................................................................67 Resource Allocation ........................................................................................................69 General Fund ................................................................................................................69 District A ...................................................................................................................70 District B ...................................................................................................................72 District C ...................................................................................................................74 Categorical Funding .....................................................................................................75 District A ...................................................................................................................78 District B ...................................................................................................................79 District C ...................................................................................................................79 Financial Management ....................................................................................................80 Budget Development Process Overview .....................................................................80 Communication the Budget .........................................................................................82 District Budget Development and Assumptions ..........................................................83 Average Daily Attendance ........................................................................................83 Student Enrollment ...................................................................................................86 Rollover.....................................................................................................................87

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Cola ...........................................................................................................................89 Budget Monitoring .......................................................................................................89 Monthly Budget Reviews .........................................................................................90 Interim Reports .........................................................................................................91 Audits ........................................................................................................................92 Position Control ........................................................................................................92 Best Practices ..................................................................................................................93 Personnel .......................................................................................................................93 Instructional Programs and Academic Interventions ....................................................97 Professional Development ............................................................................................99 Ongoing Assessments .................................................................................................101 Flexibility and Accountability ....................................................................................102 Leadership .....................................................................................................................104 Overview .....................................................................................................................104 District A Leadership ..................................................................................................104 District B Leadership ..................................................................................................109 District C Leadership ..................................................................................................115 Summary .......................................................................................................................119

CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION and CONCLUSIONS .......................................................120 Introduction ...................................................................................................................120 Summary of the Study ..................................................................................................120 Problem Statement ......................................................................................................120 Purpose Statement and Research Questions ...............................................................121 Review of Methodology .............................................................................................121 Findings Related to the Literature.................................................................................122 Collaboration..............................................................................................................122 Leadership ..................................................................................................................127 School Level Leadership .........................................................................................128 Teacher Leadership .................................................................................................130 District Leadership ..................................................................................................132 Superintendent Leadership in Successful School Districts .....................................133 School Board Leadership ........................................................................................136 School and District Level Best Practices ...................................................................138 Professional Development .......................................................................................138 Student Interventions ...............................................................................................140 Resource Allocation and Personnel ...........................................................................141 Positions That Impact Student Achievement ..........................................................141 Conclusions ................................................................................................................143 Collaboration............................................................................................................143 Systematic Collaboration Focused on Results .......................................................144 Collaborative Processes and Structures .................................................................144 District Collaboration.............................................................................................145 Collaboration with Governing Board.....................................................................146 Leadership ................................................................................................................149

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School Level Leadership ........................................................................................149 Teacher Leadership ................................................................................................150 Superintendent’s Leadership ..................................................................................151 Professional Development ........................................................................................151 Flexibility with Accountability .................................................................................152 Recommendations for Future Research .....................................................................153 Insights of the Researcher ..........................................................................................154

APPENDICES ................................................................................................................156 A: Protocol for High School Principal ..........................................................................156 B: Protocol for Chief Business Officer .........................................................................162 C: Protocol for Superintendent .....................................................................................165 D: Protocol for School Board Member .........................................................................168 E: Consent to Participate Form San Marcos State University ......................................171

REFERENCES ...............................................................................................................173

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LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 2.1: Theoretical Framework on Factors linked to Student Achievement ..............34

Figure 3.1: School and District Documents for Data Collection and Analysis ................55

Figure 4.1: Research Questions Linked to Themes ..........................................................60

Figure 4.2: Parent and Stakeholder Involvement ..............................................................63

Figure 4.3: District Budget Development Assumptions ...................................................84

Figure 4.4: Teacher Hiring Process in District B ..............................................................97

Figure 4.5: Focus on Results Program in District B .........................................................99

Figure 5.1: Enhanced Conceptual Framework: Successful School Districts ..................143

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LIST OF TABLES

Table 4.1: General Fund Percent Revenues by Categories ..............................................69

Table 4.2: Table 4.2 General Fund Percent Expenditures for 2007-2008 ........................70

Table 4.3: Summary of Assigned Personnel Units (APU) ...............................................73

Table 4.4: Categorical Funding by Source for 2007-2008 ...............................................76

Table 4.5: Federal and State Categorical Programs for 2007-2008 ..................................77

Table 4.6: State and Federal Categorical Programs: High School in District A ...............78

Table 4.7: State and Federal Categorical Programs: High School in District B ...............79

Table 4.8: State and Federal Categorical Programs: High School in District C ...............79

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank and recognize the people who supported me throughout this amazing journey. First, I want to express my deep appreciation to Dr. Jennifer Jeffries who was very encouraging throughout the dissertation process. I feel grateful to have her as my dissertation chair. Her words of encouragement and her feedback were very helpful. ONWARD! I would also like to thank my committee Dr. Daly and Dr. Baldwin for their feedback and ongoing support. Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to all the participants including the Superintendents, Chief Business Officers, High School Principals and School Board Officials from the three successful school districts who took the time off their busy schedules to share their expertise and knowledge for this study. Finally, I would like to thank my family who has always been supportive and understanding of my commitment to academics.

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VITA EDUCATION 2010 Doctor of Education, Cal State University, San Marcos; University of California, San Diego

2009 Clear Administrative Services Credential: K-12

2004 Master of Education, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA

1998 Bachelor of Arts, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA

ADMINISTRATIVE AND TEACHING EXPERIENCE

2009 Assistant Principal, Santa Ana High School, Santa Ana Unified School District

2007-2009 Assistant Principal, Escondido High, Escondido Union High School District

2004-2007 Assistant Principal, Meadowbrook Middle School, Poway Unified School District

2002-2004 Advanced Placement Spanish Teacher, La Jolla High School, San Diego City Schools

2000-2002 Math and Science Teacher, Memorial Academy Charter School, San Diego City Schools

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ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION

Process Adequacy: Successful School Districts Model by Isaac Estrada

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

California State University, San Marcos, 2010 University of California, San Diego, 2010

Professor Jennifer Jeffries, Chair

The purpose of this study was to examine how three successful high schools and districts in California allocate human and fiscal resources. This study sought to understand how successful high schools and districts serving a diverse student population link financial decisions to student achievement data. Three successful high schools and districts serving students enrolled in the Free and Reduced Price Lunch Program, the English Language Development (ELD) program, and minorities were the focus of this multiple case study. The three high schools and respective districts were systematically selected using multiple criteria including student achievement data from AYP and API reports, and student demographic information. In order to be deemed “successful” for this study, the districts and high schools needed to meet all criteria for AYP and demonstrate API growth for all subgroups. The primary sources of data collection were twelve

xiv

interviews with school administrators and school board officials. The Superintendent, Chief Business Officer, a School Board Official, and a High School Principal from each of the three successful school districts were interviewed using a semi structured interview protocol developed by the authors of the project “Getting Down to Facts”. The interview protocols were grounded on effective schools and educational adequacy frameworks.

Key Terms: Adequacy Studies, Successful School Districts, Effective Schools, High Performing High Schools, Leadership K-12, Resource Allocation K-12, Educational Finance.

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CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION Overview Federal and state educational initiatives are having a profound impact on state accountability and finance systems across the nation. The strong emphasis on all students achieving high standards has created opportunities and challenges for many state educational systems. Under the federal mandate “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) states are required to develop rigorous content and performance standards for students. Most importantly, school districts are accountable for ensuring that all students meet ever increasing proficiency targets. For school districts with diverse student populations, the requirement that all students, including those that have been deemed “underperforming” meet proficiency targets presents several challenges and implications for how resources are strategically allocated to support student achievement. At the same time, unprecedented budget cuts to education are taking place (Hanushek, 2007). Consequently, educational researchers and school practitioners are rethinking how to use school resources to improve student achievement. Furthermore, school finance experts and practitioners are dialoguing, writing and considering what types and amount of educational resources would be adequate to meet student educational needs. Critical to this discussion are emerging school finance studies which place a strong emphasis on exploring and examining how human and fiscal resources are linked to high levels of student performance. These inquires are known as adequacy studies. California public schools serve a significantly diverse population. Loeb, Bryk, and Hanushek (2007) acknowledge that the student body in California is the most diverse in our nation. Close to 90% percent of students in California attend public schools.

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California serves 6 million students of different ethnic and language backgrounds. Two- thirds of the students are minorities (Hanushek, 2007). Close to 50% of the students come from low income households. California has the largest proportion of students learning English as a second language. One out of four students is a second language learner. Finally, “more than 10% of students have been identified as needing special education services” (Ed Source, 2007). In sum, the state of California serves students of different ethnic and language backgrounds. Consequently, this has presented many opportunities and challenges in meeting the diverse educational needs of all students. Background of the Literature An emerging body of research examining adequacy through statistical models indicates a strong relationship between student educational needs and outcomes (Imazeki, 2006; Imazeki & Reschovsky, 2003; Baker, 2005; Perez et al., 2007). Leading researchers have examined and linked student educational needs with student outcomes to determine the amount and type of educational resources needed to educate all students from diverse backgrounds. For instance, Imazeki (2006) examined the relationship between students from low-income households and their achievement and found that higher costs are associated with meeting the educational needs of the students. Similarly, Perez et al. (2007) found a strong relationship between students in poverty and low achievement levels on state assessments. In addition Baker (2005) found that students learning English as a second language need more resources to meet state standards. In summary, a growing number of research studies that examine issues of adequacy through statistical models strongly suggests that students who come from low income families

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and are learning English as a second language require additional educational resources to meet rigorous state content and performance standards. The multiple lines of research linking student educational needs with additional costs to meet state standards has many implications for policy makers and school administrators in determining the amount of resources needed to educate all students in our state. Considering the challenges presented by the diverse student population in California and the higher educational costs associated with educating students in our public schools, it is troubling that California spends below the national per pupil average (Loeb et al., 2007). According to the National Education Association’s (NEA) Rankings and Estimates (2008), California spent $8,486 per pupil compared to the national average of $9,100. California’s per pupil spending is 93% of the national average. California ranked 29 th in the nation on per pupil spending levels. In addition, spending on teacher per pupil is lower compared to other states. Consequently, California has 1 teacher for every 23 students compared to the national average of 1 teacher for every 16 students. In sum, California is currently serving the most diverse student population in our nation by spending less than the national average. This disparity merits a closer look at the rationale and structure of our state finance system if we are to support the achievement for all students. The literature examining issues on California school finance describes a faulty finance system in desperate need of reform. Loeb et al. (2007) describe the current finance system as centralized, restrictive, and consisting of many regulations. In addition, Loeb et al. (2007) emphasize that the current finance system is “complex and irrational”. Kirst (2007) contends that the “finance system is broken” and “unstable”.

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Finally, Hanushek (2007) affirms that our current finance system “does not work to promote the achievement of all kids.” Thus the different researchers examining various aspects of the finance system shed light on needed improvements that merit immediate attention. The current finance system is centralized and restrictive (Loeb et al., 2007; Timar, 2006). It is centralized in the sense that how much money school districts have to spend each year is determined by the state legislature. Moreover, the majority of the funding is allocated by the governor and the legislature which decide how funds are allocated to districts serving a wide range of students with different needs. The funding for school districts comes from different sources. School districts receive 67% of their funding from the state, 22% from local resources, 9% from the federal government, and 2% from state lottery. Allocations are restrictive in that 40% of the state funds are restricted and must be applied to specific educational programs. These programs and the funds allocated to them are often referred to as “categorical.” This results in less flexibility in spending and constrains a district’s decision making processes when considering the educational needs of a diverse student population. School governing boards and district and site administrators must contend with state developed spending policies, which have resulted in more than 100 categorical funding programs. In an age of strong accountability for student achievement, and the need for financial resources to support achievement for all, it is problematic that so many resources are tied up in categorical programs, especially since there is no empirical research that speaks to the positive impact of the categorical programs on student achievement. In sum, the current system is highly complex, centralized, restrictive, and does not promote the achievement of all kids in California.

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In the context of what researchers describe as a complex, broken, and irrational finance system, ironically, there is a strong emphasis on all students achieving high standards. The pursuit of an equitable, standards-based education is mainly a product of NCLB. Federal initiatives under NCLB are charging states with unprecedented responsibilities. For instance, states need to make certain that all students meet rigorous state standards in math and English Language Arts. Consequently, school districts are required to reduce the prevailing achievement gap between ethnic groups. The strong emphasis on all students achieving is strongly promoted by federal initiatives grounded on the principle of providing an equitable and quality education for all students. Despite the strong emphasis on all students achieving high standards, California still lags behind other states in achievement in different subject areas (Loeb et al., 2007). For example, California ranked 7 th lowest in eighth grade math in the nation. The state of California also performed third lowest in reading and 2 nd lowest in science on the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP). In sum, California is performing at significantly lower levels compared to the rest of the nation. Hanushek (2007) captures the gravity of this problem with the following words, “we are not serving any of our student population very well” (n.p.). The Getting Down to Facts (2007) research project revealed significant findings around issues of adequacy and educational finance. For instance, a number of public schools in California are having tremendous success with state and federal accountability systems. All students including those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds are achieving at high levels in multiple measures of progress in school that are “Beating the Odds”. The Getting Down to Facts research project examined successful schools that are

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beating the odds and revealed how several school level resource allocation practices are linked to high levels of student achievement. This groundbreaking study revealed school level key practices including teacher collaboration, data-driven decision making and instructional leadership. Most importantly, the research revealed that “what matters most are the ways in which the current and new resources are used” (Loeb et al. 2007, p. 4). In spite of the advances in the field that the Getting Down to Facts Project (2007) brought forward, there is still a knowledge gap in the relationship between school and district level decision making practices and how they positively impact student achievement. We still need to learn more about how district administration supports school administrators in the area of school finance and allocating resources effectively to maximize student achievement. There is little research that emphasizes how successful school districts work as an organization and allocate human and fiscal resources to school sites. Most importantly, there is more to learn in how school level allocation practices in high performing high schools are linked to high levels of student achievement. This research study will assist in filling this knowledge gap. Problem Statement Student achievement is the core mission of public education. Human and financial resources are essential to fulfilling this mission. As a publicly funded institution, public schools have finite and restricted resources that must be used strategically and efficiently to attain the highest student achievement levels for all students. In order to advance our understanding of resource allocation practices and their impact on student achievement, the issue addressed in this study is determining what district and site

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resource allocation processes and practices are associated with student achievement levels. The underlying assumption that guided the investigation and consequently the research questions is that through a rigorous examination of how three successful high schools and respective districts allocate resources, we will be better positioned to make informed decisions that will benefit student achievement. Research Questions The research questions that guided this study were: 1. How do successful schools and districts in which they are located allocate human and fiscal resources? 2. To what extent are decisions regarding resource allocation linked to student achievement data? 3. What practices do educators feel are linked to school success? Methodology This study examined complex district and school level resource allocation practices and procedures that appeared to be linked to higher student achievement levels in three successful high schools and their respective districts. The focus of this study was three successful high schools serving at least 15% students enrolled in the Free and Reduced Lunch Program (FRLP), 15 % enrolled in a program for second language learners, and at least 20% minorities. The primary sources for rich data collection were from 12 interviews with district and school administrators and school board officials. The administrators and school board officials from the three successful high schools and districts were interviewed

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using a semi structured interview protocol from the research project Getting Down to Facts (2008). The pool of participants from each district included the: (1) Superintendent, (2) Chief Business Officer, (3) High School Principal, and (4) a School Board Official. Each interview lasted an average of fifty minutes. The longest interview lasted 90 minutes. Other important data sources included in the data analysis were extensive financial documents for each district found in the financial sections from three websites including Ed- Source, Ed Data, and School Services of California. In addition, financial, personnel and other school level information were collected from the School Accountability Report Card (SARC) found in the high schools’ websites. Finally, the information from each high school’s Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) was collected and analyzed. These online resources provided valuable and rich data on categorical funding and educational programs linked to student achievement. Significance of the Study The body of knowledge gained from the study may inform school practices and the identification of key resources linked to high levels of student achievement. As stated in the first chapter of this study, public schools in California are challenged with providing an adequate education for all students in a time where unprecedented budget cuts in K-14 public education are taking place (Ed Source, February 2008). Fortunately, within this context, there are a number of public schools serving a diverse student body who are experiencing high levels of student achievement. There is an opportunity to explore how these successful schools and districts strategically and effectively allocate available human and fiscal resources to further student achievement. Previous research

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on successful schools has identified critical factors linked to student success at the school level (Perez et al., 2007; Parrish et al., 2006; Gandara & Rumberger, 2006). There is a need to explore and understand how research-based factors at the district and school level coexist and interact to support student achievement. As such, this study sought to address this knowledge gap in the literature and examined the relationship between the factors through the lens of administrators and school board officials. Most recently, researchers emphasizing adequacy examined how identified successful school sites and districts are allocating their human and fiscal resources. In a groundbreaking study, Perez et al. (2007) examined how successful schools in California, as determined by student achievement data, are allocating human and fiscal resources. In addition, the authors examined the type and amount of school level resources found in successful schools and compared them to resources in underperforming schools. The researchers primarily used qualitative data from phone interviews with principals to explore how school sites are using their human resources. In addition, Perez et al. (2007) used data from CBEDS to learn more about staffing and how much each district and school site is allocating financial resources. This study found that “successful schools” did not have more resources compared to schools that were not meeting state standards as measured by state assessments. Rather, it was how they used their resources that differentiated these schools from each other. Although this study paved the way for how school districts and school sites are identified as successful and how they are using their resources, there is still a need to learn more about resource allocation processes and practices in successful schools and districts. There is a gap in the literature that speaks to the processes which successful

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schools and districts use to make resource allocation decisions. This study contributes to filling this knowledge gap.

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CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE Overview

This chapter includes four sections of recent research examining issues of educational adequacy. The first section discloses how educational adequacy is defined in the emergent literature. Additionally, emphasis is placed on how different leading authors constructed the concept of adequacy. For instance, adequacy will be examined as the construct that is linked to academic achievement (outputs) and educational resources (inputs). Most importantly, this section will highlight how inputs and outputs are linked in educational adequacy studies. The second section of this chapter focuses the discussion on four models of educational adequacy validated in the recent literature. This section also discloses the relative strengths and weaknesses of the four models. The application of these models to school districts is examined and the lessons learned from adequacy studies are reported. The third section addresses the research question related to identifying successful school districts emphasizing how the successful districts model is used to measure educational adequacy in different school districts. This section discusses in depth a breakthrough research initiative, Getting Down To Facts (2007), which examines issues of adequacy in California public schools. These studies are the foundation for how the present study identified the successful high schools and districts that serve a diverse student population. The final section of the literature review addresses the third question of this study which examines factors or elements observed in successful school districts. This section explains what successful schools are doing that might explain their success. Significant

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findings regarding school practices and processes linked to student achievement are emphasized. The lessons learned from the research on elements of school effectiveness are the main framework for this study. Additionally, the interview protocols in this study are grounded on this framework of educational adequacy in the context of successful school districts (Perez et al., 2007). Definitions of Adequacy A growing number of researchers have been examining questions around educational adequacy. Adequacy studies focus on how much money and educational resources are needed to ensure that all students receive an adequate or “sufficient” education (Baker, 2005). Researchers and practitioners across different fields use educational adequacy to refer to the different approaches, methods, or strategies used to determine or measure the cost of an adequate education for the average child (Picus, 2000, 2004). Some researchers from an economic background have emphasized statistical approaches as a tool to measure the cost of an adequate education (Reschovsky & Imazeki, 2001; Imazeki, 2006; Baker, 2005; Duncombe & Yinger, 2000; Chambers, Levin & Parrish, 2006). Other researchers have examined educational adequacy with an emphasis on the costs of educational resources (Odden, 2000; Monk & Theobald, 2001; Sweetland, 2002; Augenblick et al., 2002). Few researchers have linked the relationship between educational costs and desired student outcomes. There is little research examining how educational resources (inputs) are linked to student achievement (outputs) to provide an adequate education in successful high schools and their respective districts. Despite the differences in emphasis on adequacy, most of the researchers refer to four

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approaches used to determine the cost of an adequate education (NCES, 2000; Verstegen, 2002; Picus, 2000, 2004; Reschovsky & Imazeki, 2001; Baker, 2005; Odden, 2000; Monk & Theobald, 2001; Baker & Duncombe, 2004). The four approaches are: (1) Successful School District Model, (2) Cost Function Model, (3) Professional Judgment Model, and (4) Whole School Reform Model. Adequacy Models The majority of researchers consistently identify four approaches used to determine the cost of an adequate education. The four models include: (1) Successful School District Model, (2) Cost Function Model, (3) Professional Judgment Model, and (4) Whole School Reform Model. All four adequacy models have been developed and refined in different contexts and state finance systems. One key difference is the type of student achievement and resource data used to determine the cost of an adequate education. All previous research on these approaches has been predominantly quantitative and has included district and state level data. Monk (2000) asserts “there is no single best method for determining the cost of an adequate education” (p. 30). Other researchers have echoed this sentiment (Picus, 2004; Odden, 2000). Regardless of the differences in definitions, all the approaches seek to determine the cost of an adequate education (NCES, 2003). Successful School District Model The successful school district model is recognized as being one of the first methods used to determine the cost of an adequate education. Augenblick et al. (2002) are credited for introducing this model. They led the implementation of this model in several school districts in the state of Ohio. Other terminology researchers have used to

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refer to this method include the Ohio adequacy model (Picus, 2000), resource cost model (Baker, 2005), exemplary districts (Verstegen, 2002), and empirical observation approach (NCES, 2003). The successful school district model is used as a term in the majority of the research studies to address the problem of identifying and quantifying resources needed for an adequate education (Picus, 2004; Reschovsky & Imazeki, 2001; Imazeki & Reschovsky, 2003; Addonizio, 2003). The successful school district model involves identifying a set of school districts within a state that have achieved targeted performance objectives. In addition, the successful school districts’ spending levels in different educational services are closely examined. Other district financial and resource allocation data is collected and analyzed in order to derive an average per pupil spending level. The average spending per pupil of these successful school districts is used as a statewide base cost of providing an adequate spending level per pupil (Picus, 2004). Data from school districts with high and low levels of property wealth are considered outliers and are excluded from the analysis. Findings from the state of Ohio and later from a study of Mississippi reveal the relative strengths and weaknesses of the successful school district method (NCES, 2003). Research conducted in several states clearly reveals the strengths associated with the successful school district method (Reschovsky & Imazeki, 2003; Verstegen, 2002; NCES, 2003; Augenblick, Meyers, Silverstein, & Barkis, 2002; Addonizio, 2003, Perez et al., 2007; Gandara & Rumberger, 2006). This method is less complex compared to other methods and involves fewer statistical techniques than other adequacy methods. This approach, compared to other models, is easier to understand and explain to stakeholders. Consequently, policymakers, administrators and stakeholders are more

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likely to consider this approach to inform school finance practices and guide policy development. In addition, the base cost for an adequate education is based on empirical evidence from successful school districts (Augenblick et al., 2002). The relative effectiveness of this approach has been observed in Ohio, New Hampshire and Mississippi state finance systems. However, studies also show the challenges and shortcomings of this approach. Researchers clearly point out the weaknesses of this approach tracing it back to a case study in Ohio (Verstegen, 2002). Several studies reveal that this method does not adjust the base cost to reflect additional costs associated with factors outside the control of the school district (Augenblick et al., 2002; Verstegen, 2002; Imazeki & Reschovsky, 2003). For example, the cost associated with special needs students is higher than the average student. Other special needs include learning disabilities, second language needs, and low socio economic level (NCES, 2003). Thus one shortcoming from this approach is that it does not account for additional costs associated with educating students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Another criticism from the research is that the average spending figures from successful school districts might not be applicable to other school districts due to differences in student demographics and other district characteristics. For example, an adequate spending level derived from data from a successful homogenous school district might not translate to a heterogeneous school district. As a final consideration, given the relative strengths and weaknesses of this approach, three states have successfully established costs for targeted outcomes using this adequacy model. The states are: Ohio, Mississippi, and New Hampshire. All three states used the average base cost observed in

Full document contains 192 pages
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine how three successful high schools and districts in California allocate human and fiscal resources. This study sought to understand how successful high schools and districts serving a diverse student population link financial decisions to student achievement data. Three successful high schools and districts serving students enrolled in the Free and Reduced Price Lunch Program, the English Language Development (ELD) program, and minorities were the focus of this multiple case study. The three high schools and respective districts were systematically selected using multiple criteria including student achievement data from AYP and API reports, and student demographic information. In order to be deemed "successful" for this study, the districts and high schools needed to meet all criteria for AYP and demonstrate API growth for all subgroups. The primary sources of data collection were twelve interviews with school administrators and school board officials. The Superintendent, Chief Business Officer, a School Board Official, and a High School Principal from each of the three successful school districts were interviewed using a semi structured interview protocol developed by the authors of the project "Getting Down to Facts". The interview protocols were grounded on effective schools and educational adequacy frameworks. Key Terms: Adequacy Studies, Successful School Districts, Effective Schools, High Performing High Schools, Leadership K-12, Resource Allocation K-12, Educational Finance.