The Search for Smart Schools: Identifying Texas School Districts’ Best Practices
Project AdvisorCole, Catherine
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This report outlines findings from the TXSmartSchools.org (TSS) Capstone Team’s mixed methodology study identifying best practices in high performing and cost-efficient school districts. TSS was particularly interested in finding best practices transferable from high performing school districts to low performing districts. The Capstone Team accomplished this using the TSS concept of “fiscal peers.” After completing a narrative literature review on the best practices in public education, the Capstone Team examined the effect of various school district expenditures on academic performance and cost efficiency through quantitative methods. The Capstone Team’s findings suggest the amount of money invested in practices are not indicative of the quality of the programs. Additional findings demonstrate the administrative cost ratio caps do not improve cost efficiency, and investments in bilingual education are associated with improved academic performance. To better describe the practices employed in school districts, semistructured interviews were conducted with school district officials. The findings from interviews with chief business officers and superintendents capture the importance of culture in district practices and operations. Based on the quantitative and qualitative findings, the Capstone Team makes recommendations that can be implemented at the district and state level. Further research is needed that will allow educators and researchers to better identify the best practices that will improve Texas schools’ and districts’ student academic achievement and fiscal efficiency.
ClientSmart Schools Initiative
DepartmentPublic Service and Administration
Coyle, Shannon; Dick, Amanda; Griffin, Marlisa; Hood, Joseph; Tihanyi, Daniel (2017). The Search for Smart Schools: Identifying Texas School Districts’ Best Practices. Available electronically from
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