Introducing SMART Pathways for Student Success

For the past five years, Allovue has been working with school districts and administrators across the country to innovate K-12 finance. We’ve worked with superintendents and CFOs, principals and school secretaries, food services and athletic department heads, budget analysts and accountants, grants managers and special education leaders, board members and parents.

We’ve worked with large urban districts and small rural districts. We’ve helped with professional development, research and analysis, policy and practice. We’ve done much of this work through implementing and using our Balance software platform alongside our district partners who are managing over $25 billion in education resources.

While there are many distinct characteristics across all of our partners and the students they serve, we also discovered common threads: five, to be exact. Every administrator we’ve talked to in the past five years is facing a challenge that fits into at least one of five common pathways.

As a teacher, I was swimming in rubrics, standards, benchmarks, best practices, and evaluation tools for instructional practices and student achievement. However, in the world of school and district administration and operations, there are precious few indicators or benchmarks of progress and success. The benchmarks that do exist are primarily operational and do not place student success as the goal of district resource strategy. Short of not being in deficit, what does great district financial strategy look like? And how does it compare to peer districts? Audits are necessary compliance tools, but they don’t reveal anything useful about the equity or effectiveness of district resource strategy.

Today, we’re announcing the Allovue SMART Pathways for Student Success, a district financial management and strategy rubric with five Pathways and 48 indicators of success. The rubric is designed to move districts to holistic and sustainable financial management practices in 3-5 years, depending on their baseline diagnostic. The five Pathways are as follows:

Site-Level Autonomy

Budget owners have control over the dollars spent at their location and are provided the corresponding professional development needed to ensure their success.


The district has the right processes, people, and tools in place to ensure that budget owners are held accountable and prepared for strategic spending.

Alignment of Spending to Goals

The district has clearly articulated outcomes-based goals that are tied to dollars, with the appropriate infrastructure in place to monitor and update resource allocation decisions regularly.

Resource Equity

Dollars are allocated to schools based on student needs. The allocation methods are transparent and updated annually to account for changing student populations.


Every district stakeholder has access to district’s allocation method, site-based budgets, and actual expenditures. This information is easily accessible and understandable for the school and district community.

Beyond benchmarking progress and success, SMART Pathways will also help create professional learning communities around common challenges and circumstances in order to elevate best practices in district financial strategy across the country.

Watch Jess Gartner, Allovue's CEO and Founder discuss SMART Pathways, an innovative district financial management and strategy rubric designed to help districts reach holistic and sustainable financial management practices:


About the Author


Allovue provides innovative education finance technology solutions to educators nationwide to help them budget, manage, and evaluate school spending. The company also provides districts with supplemental services including funding equity analysis, diagnostic surveys, and financial management training. Allovue’s flagship product, Balance, is an online software platform designed to help K–12 administrators access, understand, and control their financial data.