Shift to 'Value-Based' Approach to Budgeting for K-12 Education Sharpens Focus on Results

Jul 12, 2012, 09:30 ET from The Boston Consulting Group

BOSTON, July 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Achieving More for Less in U.S. Education with a Value-Based Approach, a new report from Boston Consulting Group, discusses how a simple framework for increasing the effectiveness of budgeting and decision making in education systems around the world. Known as a "value-based approach," the framework aims to maximize the impact of available funds, recognizing the tradeoffs inherent in spending decisions across the portfolio of current and proposed expenditures, while maintaining an unflinching focus on learning outcomes among students.

"For more than four decades, student performance has remained stagnant as K–12 spending has more than doubled," said J. Puckett, a senior partner who coauthored the report and the global leader of BCG's Education practice. "As demand for improved student achievement continues to grow, we must ensure that spending decisions align with outcomes. It is no longer just an issue of how much we spend, but how we spend it."

Once initiatives that have unproven or limited impact begin, they are rarely assessed for effectiveness—and rarely canceled, according to BCG. They persist year after year regardless of their value, layering legacy costs on top of other legacy costs. Too few legislators or administrators have been willing to acknowledge the tension between cost and outcome, or to accept that spending in one area might deprive a more promising area of funds.

The value-based approach is being advanced by the Measures of Effective Teaching Project, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Through MET, decisionmakers are gaining an improved understanding of which teacher characteristics lead to improved student outcomes—and enabling these decision-makers to invest to develop those characteristics—instead of paying salary premiums for advanced degrees or experience.

The report highlights the Los Angeles region of the successful Knowledge Is Power Program  as another example of the benefits of the value-based approach, highlighting KIPP administrators' use of digital technologies to restructure the classroom and extend the reach of high-performing teachers.

"Value-based thinking demands evaluating the evidence for today's assumptions and current practices," explained Lane McBride. "By persistently scouting and documenting the initiatives that work well and can be scaled up, the U.S. may be able to improve its educational system—and do so without continued increases in spending."

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SOURCE The Boston Consulting Group