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Journal for Effective Schools

Volume 11, Number 1

A series of paired-sample t tests were conducted to evaluate statistically whether the participant school business officials’ budget decision-making criteria were significantly different prior to NCLB than after NCLB. The results, at a 95% confidence level, indicated that the following budget criteria were more relevant after NCLB: impact of matching funds; state and federal laws and regulations; program quality and evaluation results; and, accreditation standards. Past-practice was found to be less important after NCLB. Overall, these findings suggest a change in the relative importance of school districts’ budget decision-making criteria in making budget decisions. It appears that the participating school districts consider state and federal regulations and laws, program quality and evaluation results, and accreditation results more important after NCLB in making budget decisions rather than past practice. NCLB suggests that such a change is needed in order to achieve greater student achievement, the metric by which school districts are held publically accountable. Interviews confirmed that 2008 (after NCLB), criteria including accreditation standards, program quality and evaluation results, and federal and state laws are important considerations in budgeting resources. The reasons for their importance, the following school business officials shared: They form really the basis of what we do in building our budget…. - School District Business Official #5 Interview Response Well they force us to really look at, as far as the accreditation standards and AYP; they force us to look at the indicators. We now are paying a lot more attention; actually using data …. - School District Business Official #4 Interview Response The focus is on accountability, student achievement... It is, I think, part of an evolutionary process which has occurred. - School District Business Official #12 Interview Response It appears that school district business officials view budget decisions through a new lens because they must show more concern with how students perform than they did in the past. In so doing, strategic planning appears to be important as well as indicators of success, inclusive of accreditation standards. What budgeting methods do the school districts use? Survey respondents were asked to select from four budgeting methods which best described how they formed their school district’s budget. The data show that 75

Journal for Effective Schools - Spring 2013  

Vol. 11, #1