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The Bottom Line

    4 Ways to Measure K-12 Instructional Program Success

    In this post, we'll cover: calculating instructional spending and cost-effectiveness, tracking instructional allocations across locations, strategic alignment, and financial behavior.

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    For instructional leadership in school districts, measuring and improving student achievement and connecting instructional programs to student outcomes is key.To accomplish this goal, there are four ways to measure success.

    • Calculating Instructional Spending and Cost-Effectiveness
    • Tracking Instructional Allocations Across Locations
    • Aligning Spending to District Strategic Plans
    • Supporting Financial Literacy and Acumen

    1. Calculating Instructional Spending and Cost-Effectiveness


    Should a particular program be continued, expanded, reduced, or discontinued? With a clear understanding of the balance between a program’s cost and its effects, a Chief Academic Officer (CAO) and Instructional Leadership will have the right information to make these tough decisions.


    In that light, ESSA is a CAO’s best friend. The federal ESSA legislation is interested in the effectiveness of every dollar. This law includes provisions to implement programs with “strong,” “moderate,” or “promising” evidence of positive outcomes for students, as determined by existing scholarly research. Thus, it will be more important than ever for a CAO to understand which programs are being implemented and to continuously monitor their results against their costs.


    Specific questions that instructional leadership should ask regarding this point are:

    • Are we spending money on software, curriculum, training, or other materials that are well-researched and/or proven to get results?
    • Are these programs cost-effective relative to other programs?


    2. Instructional Resource Allocation Across Schools


    All students deserve equitable resources and an equal opportunity for a great education. Do you know which instructional resources are being purchased to support instructional goals? How are instructional resources selected? Can your district account for where instructional resources end up and who they serve?


    A specific question that instructional leadership should ask regarding this point is:

    • Are instructional resources being equitably distributed across schools, according to student and school needs?

    3. Strategic Alignment


    For CAOs and Instructional Program Managers, teacher and student success is the bottom line. That means instructional resources must be aligned with district goals for student achievement.


    Specific questions that instructional leadership should ask regarding this point are:

    • Are you able to track resource alignment across schools?
    • Can you evaluate which resources are most effective for improving student performance?


    In one district, we are working on strategic plans for each instructional program that aligns to the system vision. This approach parallels a school improvement plan that a principal creates for their school. With this model, each instructional program will collect data and milestones to measure progress. One key component of this process is aligning and evaluating spending based on their program’s strategic plan.


    Specific questions that instructional leadership should ask regarding this point are:

    • Are instructional program budgets aligned to address academic goals for the district?
    • What percentage of instructional budget was spent on resources to address the academic goals and priorities for the district?


    4. Financial Behavior


    Academic program leaders often manage large budgets. Unless they majored in accounting in college, they may not feel ready for the responsibility of managing millions of dollars. Access and control of fiscal decisions should match the level of financial responsibility that is placed on department leaders. Having readily available account information (budget, expenditures, encumbrances, and available) is vital for department-level decision making.


    Specific questions that instructional leadership should ask regarding this point are:

    • Does instructional program leadership understand financial management?
    • Do instructional program managers have easy access to their financial transactions and account status?
    • How does your district prepare instructional program managers and principals to budget and manage money allocated for their programs?




    The work of a Chief Academic Officer and their team of instructional leaders is central to the success of a school district. The mission of their work is to support and improve teaching and learning. The selection of curriculum materials and resources, planned professional learning, and implementation of instructional programs are keys to long-term student and district success. By ensuring they can answer the preceding questions, CAOs will ensure their districts are best serving the needs of their students.


    Allovue works with districts and state departments of education across the country to allocate, budget, and manage spending. Allovue's software suite integrates seamlessly with existing accounting systems to make sure every dollar works for every student. Allovue also provides additional services such as chart of accounts and funding formula revisions.