Seven Critical Factors to Improving Student Outcomes with Student-Based Budgeting: Cleveland Edition

Commentary

Seven Critical Factors to Improving Student Outcomes with Student-Based Budgeting: Cleveland Edition

Education Resource Strategies has worked extensively with several districts in implementing student-based budgeting. Through these partnerships they’ve concluded that equitable funding and autonomy must be coupled with Strategic School Design in order to improve student outcomes.

According to ERS, Strategic School Design is a strategic-planning framework in which school leaders are “lead designers” in determining how resources are allocated. School leaders begin the process by identifying key needs and creating a vision for excellence that addresses them. This vision is then used to create a resource-allocation plan according to three primary principles: excellent teachers for all students, personalized learning and support, and cost effectiveness through creative solutions. School leaders are encouraged to focus on priorities rather than pursuing a plethora of new initiatives.

Recently, ERS collaborated with Cleveland Metropolitan School District in implementing all phases of SBB including determining funding weights, establishing enrollment projections, and creating tools for school leaders. From this experience ERS has created a roadmap to help other districts implement SBB.

Specifically, ERS has identified seven factors critical to success for using SBB and Strategic School Design to improve student outcomes:

  1. Leadership: SBB and Strategic School Design should be approached as an academic reform strategy. Academic or school-support leaders should be in charge, not finance.
  2. Flexibilities: Give school leaders flexibility over the resources that will impact school outcomes.
  3. Process: Budgeting and strategic planning should be integrated.
  4. Collaboration: District leadership should shift from a compliance-driven mindset to a service-provider mindset.
  5. Preparation: Provide school leaders with Strategic School Design professional development before implementing SBB.
  6. Models: Provide school leaders with examples of effective Strategic School Design from within your district.
  7. Accountability: District leaders should provide both support and accountability. SBB and Strategic School Design can provide districts with a fully integrated solution that helps them achieve an equitable allocation of resources and improve student outcomes.

Read ERS’s full study here.

Aaron Garth Smith is an education policy analyst at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.