Chapter 3 Summary Name of of University This chapter discusses the issue of declining budgets for schools and how the education institution can cope with a continuously tightening budget, particularly how it can still effectively fulfill its two primary objectives—improving student performance and closing achievement gaps—despite its current financial standing…
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Thus the author’s major argument is that schools and districts should develop strategic plans to successfully cope with tightening budgets. According to the author there are four major reasons why schools are facing problems with cost increases, namely, smaller classes, more electives, automatic pay increases, and growing benefit costs (Odden, 2012, 47-49). First, some schools and districts reduce class sizes in the belief that it will improve student performance. Such belief is supported by several studies which reported improvements in the academic achievement of students who belong in smaller classes. However, these smaller class sizes are only effective in early grades. Second, more elective courses demand greater costs because they are usually made up of smaller classes. Third, as expected, automatic pay increases boost costs. Teachers and administrators are automatically given salary increase every time they acquire more experience or move up to a higher qualification level. Unfortunately, this salary system is not associated with greater academic performance and better teaching; it merely increases costs. And lastly, pension and health benefits, especially for those currently employed, also add pressure to education resources. All of these four factors undoubtedly increase education costs, but with little or no positive impact on student learning or academic performance. The author provides several strategic methods to resolve the dilemma of increasing costs and flat performance, such as definite objectives, a plan of action, and a clear strategic budgeting plan. Those schools with adequate resources but experiencing budget cutbacks must only consider strategies that will have the least effect on academic performance, such as a smaller number of administrators and instructional aides. On the other hand, those schools with insufficient funding must leave out small class sizes and consider more instructional coaches to enhance core classroom instruction (Odden, 2012, 50-52). In essence, a general plan of action can offer guidance to both sufficiently and insufficiently funded schools. The Midwestern middle school example shows how a substantially funded school can improve student learning without having to increase costs or demand additional resources. The problems with the school are that it has too many staff, but no instructional coaches and tutors, and lacking in collaborative work which could promote student learning. According to the analysis, the school can in fact afford all the staffing needed to significantly enhance student learning (Odden, 2012, 54). Numerous staff positions and electives can be reallocated to areas that have greater impact on student performance, such as those for struggling students (e.g. poor, disabled, etc). The analysis shows that the suggested staffing allocation could drastically enhance academic performance without additional staffing and/or funding. One of the main suggestions given to successfully address the issue of tightening budget in education is increasing class sizes in order to reallocate resources to other more important areas, like programs for struggling students. As mentioned previously, studies have found that smaller class sizes positively impact student learning in early grades, but nothing has been
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