Strategic School Funding for Results

Project Summary

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Strategic School Funding for Results (SSFR) was first implemented during the 2009-10 school year at pilot schools located within Twin Rivers, Los Angeles, and Pasadena unified school districts. Implementation of the project flows through a coordinated partnership between the American Institutes for Research and the San Francisco-based Pivot Learning Partners. Funding for the project is provided by the Institution for Educational Sciences.


The goal of SSFR is to provide district and school level officials with a more efficient and effective means of distribute their available resources.  As a means of accomplishing these goals, SSFR provides districts with a set of transparent tools and processes that facilitate the distribution of revenues to schools on a per-pupil basis. For schools, SSFR implements a process that provides schools with more flexibility in how they utilize resources they receive, as well as a web-based platform through which schools can outline and share any and all resource allocation strategies that they develop. 


Through these tools and processes, SSFR (a) facilitates the development and implementation of more equitable and transparent strategies for allocating resources at both a district and a school level; (b) links those strategies to policies and processes designed to encourage innovation, efficiency, and teacher effectiveness; and (c) through improvements to transparency strengthens the level of accountability of teachers, principals and other staff for improving student outcomes. The AIR and Pivot team believe that strengthening each of these components will allow schools and districts to more effectively invest their resources and will ultimately lead to across the board improvements in student performance.


Theory of Action


As a means of ensuring successful implementation of each of SSFR's three core components, our team has developed a formal Theory of Action that will allow schools to establish a culture of innovation and efficiency, increase transparency to stakeholders, and implement conditions conducive to greater resource equity. These elements work together to achieve SSFR's goal of improving student outcomes.


  1. A culture of innovation and efficiency is achieved by:

  1. Streamlining the process of resource allocation, budget development and outcome evaluation through the use of tools/modules
  2. Creating appropriate incentives for improving the performance of principals, teachers, and other school faculty (such as increases in school-level autonomy)
  3. Ensuring access to a wide range of educational choices for families and children
  4. Providing school leaders with the opportunity to select and purchase various support services from the central office


  1. Increased transparency is achieved by:

  1. Simplifying the channels through which school and district leaders communicate with one another
  2. Increasing the participation of a wide range of stakeholders in the design of these processes


  1. Improvements to Equity are achieved by:

    1. implementing tools that allocate dollars to schools based on student needs.


SSFR hopes to realize its Theory of Action by meeting the standards set by each district in which the program is implemented. The results of this evaluation will provide information to help federal, state, and local policymakers select policies that will improve learning opportunities for all children.