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Leverage Resource Allocation Reviews to Support Local Decision Making

View this story as it originally appeared on the PIE Network's Resources & News page.

ESSA accountability regulations were overturned. What now? We know reform advocates will continue their work to support ESSA engagement and implementation at the state level. At the same time, a complicated landscape just became even more murky for those on the front lines. To help navigate through the complexities, we’re tapping the expertise of eight PIE Network federal-facing partners. Stephen Frank weighs in. - PIE Network 

Make the most of resource allocation reviews for school improvement

Advocates need to encourage states to reserve some Title I set aside to fund meaningful resource allocation reviews to support better local decision making and build capacity to support school and district transformation.

The Every Student Succeeds Act mandates that states “periodically review resource allocation to support school improvement” in districts with concentrations of schools identified for intervention. This provision gives states a powerful tool to both diagnose the resource issues that lead to chronic low-performance and to design remedies.

What can advocates do?

The mandate implicitly acknowledges that simply spreading federal school improvement dollars (which now come in the form of a 7 percent Title I set aside) across struggling schools will not do. Rather, it pushes states to study longstanding resource trends that have disadvantaged low-performing schools, and assess the full set of resources—federal, state, and local —that must be reoriented to support significant and sustainable instructional improvement.

The Department of Education’s accountability regulations were designed to guide analyses states must undertake to accomplish this.

With these regulations  now revoked by Congress, accountability becomes flexibility.

So, it is up to states to design resource allocation studies that truly support school improvement.

Advocates need to encourage states to reserve some of their Title I set aside to fund meaningful resource allocation reviews in targeted locales that support better local decision making and build the state’s capacity to support school and district transformation. Whether funded through an innovation grant or not, such reviews should:

  • Include analysis of schedules, course-taking, student grouping strategies, professional learning resources and teacher assignment to help the leadership teams in targeted schools reallocate and align all (not just incremental) school resources – people, time, money, and technology – in support of a coherent strategic vision
  • Examine district-wide resource allocation opportunitiesIn addition to examining whether targeted schools receive sufficient resources, these reviews should examine areas where the district might be over or under investing relative to its goals.
  • Identify system-level conditions that must changeDistrict practices or policies often contribute to a poor distribution of teacher talent across schools or to an insufficient investment in recruiting and retaining highly effective teachers. Similarly, time-bound schedules or rote staffing practices can inhibit classroom innovation. A resource allocation study can help districts identify and act upon priority opportunities.

In short, states do not need federal regulations to seize this opportunity to inform their support plans with broad and robust reviews of resource allocation.

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