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Improving Student Learning When Budgets Are Tight

Improving Student Learning When Budgets Are Tight

April 2012 | 208 pages | Corwin
When money for education is tight and many states and districts are cutting education budgets, the resource side of education reform and school improvement becomes one of the most critical issues for sustaining our nationÆs schools. Without more effective use of the education dollar, current fiscal constraints and funding cuts could lead to battles over money, ineffective across-the-board budget cuts, and a substandard education system with a negative impact on student learning.This book for school and district leaders is intended to show pathways through this current fiscal mess by linking what is known about improving school effectiveness and student performance to more effective and efficient resource use practices. It will offer concrete, specific actions that can be taken now, without major changes in the organization and governance of AmericaÆs school systems. The strategies discussed will include: a) initial data analysis to understand current performance context, i.e. creating a sense of urgency for retaining the focus on boosting student performance even in tough fiscal times, b) setting specific numeric and high goals, and using those goals to drive resource allocation priorities, c) selecting a curriculum program and developing a view of effective instruction practice, with more specific comments on the characteristics of effective reading programs, d) the trade-offs between core subjects (reading/English/language arts, mathematics, science, history and foreign language) and electives, the use of time and school schedules, and the emergence of career-technical programs to replace the old ôvoc-techö programs, e) formative and benchmark assessments, and the use of data to improve teaching practice, f) the organization of teacher work into collaborative teams, g) ongoing, comprehensive professional development including the use of instructional coaches, h) strategies for struggling students including Tier 1, 2 and 3 strategies in the Response to Intervention approach to students who need extra help, i) leadership, and j) teacher, principal, and central office talent.
List of Tables
About the Author
1. A Plan of Action: Turning Around Low-Performing and Enhancing High-Performing Schools
A Strategic Approach to Using the Education Dollar

A Plan of Action for Dramatically Improving Student Performance


2. The Resource Needs of the Plan of Action
Details of the Resource Needs of the Plan of Action

Example of a High-Spending District That Could Cut Spending

Linking Table 2.1 to School Finance Adequacy


3. Targeting Resources to Student Learning When Budgets Are Tight
Understand and Resist the Cost Increase Pressures on Schools

An Example of Strategic Resource Reallocation for a Midwestern Middle School

More Detail on Strategic Budgeting


4. Recruiting, Developing, and Compensating Top Educator Talent: Local Practices and Supporting State Policies
Acquiring, Developing, and Retaining Teacher Talent

Teacher Salary Structures

Educator Pensions


5. Computers and Technology in Education: Costs and Online Options
Costs of Technology Software and Hardware

Using Information Technologies for Instruction


6. When Budget Cuts Are Necessary
Cost Pressures, Goals, and Principles to Guide Strategic Budgeting

Ensuring a Solid Talent Foundation in Tight Fiscal Times

Engaging in Strategic Budgeting



“This book offers a comprehensive framework to enhance student achievement in good times and in bad. It presents opportunities for schools and government to work together to strategically confront the budgetary challenges facing public education today.”

Deborah H. Cunningham, President
The Association for Education Finance and Policy

“Allan Odden’s book thoughtfully demonstrates that budgetary challenges facing our schools are immense and one that dedicated public servants are meeting with resilience and invention as they retain powerful education improvement strategies that close the achievement gap.”

Rudy Crew, Professor
USC Rossier School of Education

“Any leader who wants to understand school finance and budgeting should begin by learning from Alan Odden. This book combines research on what works to improve performance with resource implications and is filled with clear, comprehensive, and practical advice for school leaders who want to do more with less.”

Karen Hawley Miles, President and Executive Director
Education Resource Strategies, Watertown, MA

“This is the right advice at the right time for schools. Allan Odden has provided practical tips for education leaders to put their resources behind the spending areas that are shown to improve student academic performance. His book is a “how-to manual” for school leaders to improve student performance at a time of limited resources.”

Andrew Benson, Vice President
KnowledgeWorks, Cincinatti, OH

"This new book brings together many years of work in a set of ideas that are compelling and feasible, especially in the current fiscal climate. Odden provides sensible, well grounded advice that would work in any setting. This is important work that deserves not just wide reading, but action."

Ben Levin, Professor and Research Chair
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

"This how-to guide from noted ed-school professor and school-budget expert Allan Odden offers some necessary advice for school administrators learning to wield their budget axes deftly (and a number of helpful examples of how districts are doing just that). Odden’s mission—for district leaders to make cuts intelligently rather than clumsily or politically—would lead to a radical shift in the K-12 spending paradigm. And it’s about time."

The Educational Gadfly
Fordham Institute

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1: A Plan of Action

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ISBN: 9781452217086

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