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Resource Alignment

Thoughtful allocation of budgets and other resources to achieve desired education outcomes for students.
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How funding is allocated to schools, programs, or departments can significantly affect the degree to which students learn and thrive. Our ability to operate schools, plan lessons, deliver instruction, and provide 21st-century learning opportunities to students requires resources. Because resources are limited, the challenge for educators is to make every dollar count. To that end, funding should align with a carefully developed education plan that reflects what’s needed (e.g., staff, professional development, materials) to achieve the desired education outcomes for students. Schools and districts that optimize their resources in this way will more likely spend their dollars on the right thing at the right time.

QSF LogoResources


These tools are provided as resources to support implementation of the Quality Schooling Framework (QSF). Their use is not intended as a requirement for schools and districts.

  • Does Your Local Control Accountability (LCAP) Plan Deliver on The Promise of Increased or Improved Services for English Learners? Research Aligned Rubrics to Help Answer the Question and Guide Your Program External link opens in new window or tab.
    This tool will provide guidance for local educational agencies (LEAs) in designing; funding and implementing programs to address the eight state priorities and describe the “improved or increased services” with high impact to close achievement gaps for English Learners. The rubrics assist stakeholders to prioritize what needs to be improved and addressed in the annual revision of the LCAP for English Learners.
  • Mass Insight Education: The School Turnaround Group: The District Self-Assessment Tool External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
    While designed specifically for supporting school turnaround in lowest performing schools, this tool supports district self-assessment of its collective bargaining agreements. It specifically invites examination of agreements in the areas of people, programs, time, and money, and it provides suggested provisions for supporting effective school turnaround.
  • The Local Control Funding Formula–An Essential EdSource Guide External link opens in new window or tab.
    This resource provides an overview for a busy leader who wants a thorough explanation of the formula and accountability requirements for the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) in California. This tool offers useful links to more resources including; frequently asked questions, a short video of why the formula is important, a Spanish version of the primer, and a list of resources to help "decipher" the formula.
  • LCAP Needs Assessment Tool
    The Needs Assessment Tool (NAT) is a Microsoft Excel-based dashboard developed by the Riverside County Office of Education to assist LEAs in conducting a local needs assessment based upon required and locally identified metrics included in the LCAP. The NAT allows LEAs to gather and display data for an individual school, program, or for an entire district, charter, or county office of education. Additionally, it allows LEAs to display trend data for each identified subgroup, simplifying the identification of significant areas of need. This free resource also includes a manual to assist in utilizing the NAT.
  • Education Resource Strategies External link opens in new window or tab.
    This site contains several interactive tools for districts to explore their school systems from seven perspectives: standards, teaching, school design, leadership, school support, funding, and partners. The tools include a survey of the current system, a way of re-thinking the use of budget to accomplish district goals, and a guide for crafting a vision for school transformation.
  • EdData External link opens in new window or tab.
    The site provides data specific to California counties, districts, and schools. The District "Compare Finances" report allows districts to select and filter information for comparing their fiscal status with similar districts relative to enrollment, student groups, Americans with Disabilities Act, revenue limits, etc.

Excerpted from California Department of Education's (CDE’s) External Linking Policy: The CDE is providing these external links only as a convenience, and the inclusion of any external link does not imply endorsement by the CDE or any association with the sites' operators.


“It is certainly reasonable to acknowledge that money, by itself is not a comprehensive solution for improving school quality. Clearly, money can be spent poorly and have limited influence on school quality. Or, money can be spent well and have substantive positive influence. But money that’s not there can’t do either.” (1)

Our ability to operate schools, plan lessons, deliver instruction, and provide 21st-century learning opportunities to students requires fiscal resources. Because funding is limited, the challenge for educators is to make every dollar count. To that end, districts and schools must align their resources with a carefully developed education plan, allocating their dollars to support present and emerging needs to achieve the desired education outcomes for students (e.g., staff, professional development, materials). This alignment process requires deliberate attention to, and basic knowledge of, budgeting and management. Schools that optimize their resources by aligning them are more likely to spend the right amount of money on the right thing at the right time.

Spending the right amount of money on the right thing at the right time can be challenging. Historically, it has been common practice to allocate resources based on formulas that give the same amount of funding per student based on an assumption that this is a fair and equitable approach. However, if we are to achieve equal outcomes for students, the same amount may not always be the right amount. Equitable outcomes often require differentiated investment.


Money is most effectively used when we are clear about how and why it matters. Traditional school planning processes identify what resources will be used and how much money is required to implement planned activities. In order to align resources more effectively, school and district budgets should connect the dots between what we expect (based on our plans) and what we do (based on what and where we spend). School and district administrators’ knowledge and understanding of the relationship between planning and budget allocations is usually not taught in a formal way, but learned on the job.

The need for effective management of resources is well documented in research on school finance and on effective education models related to systemic school reform and continuous improvement. (1) This research supports priority-driven planning focused on student learning results. A key element of plan implementation is ensuring that adequate resources are available to support implementation. In other words, it is critical to align efforts related to capacity, implementation, and resource allocation. (2)

School resource management is not just about determining the available resources a school has at its disposal—it is about how best to use these resources to ensure that all students learn and thrive. When funding alone is considered as a variable of change, some studies shown no systematic, positive relationship between student achievement and inputs such as per-pupil expenditures (3) while others have reached the opposite conclusion. (4) What researchers do agree upon agree is that how resources are spent is critical to student success. (3, 4)


Research on school resource allocation highlight the challenges that exist for schools to engage in practices that align resources with desired learning outcomes. (1) For example, EdSource found several operational variables within schools that are better predictors of student achievement than schools’ level of resources; these variables include the types of priorities set by a school, availability of appropriate instructional materials, use of data to inform decisions, and quality of leadership. (2) As noted earlier, research suggests that effective resource alignment is not primarily about the amount of funding or staff, but more about the structures that surround the effective use of funds, such as:

  • Recognizing effective resource management as a condition for quality schooling. Well-functioning schools and districts create environments for quality schooling to occur. Creating these kinds of environments mean that basic operations benefit from deliberate planning and aligned support. Examples of supportive practices include ensuring that site administrators have access to sufficient resources to meet the needs of their staff and students, have a basic level of knowledge of how school budgets are constructed and managed, receive timely information about staffing and funding, and communicate effectively about resource decisions. (3)
  • Creating teams. District and schools that have successfully aligned resources have found that teaming was an indispensable factor in creating a process that aligned budget planning and development.
  • Spending on what matters. Well constructed budgets are driven by priorities, with time, energy, and money focused on supporting a few important things. Districts and schools that successfully align resources are generally very deliberate about how they evaluate new funding opportunities and initiatives to maximize the impact of resources. (4)
  • Being transparent and concrete. A key to effective resource planning is to put funding into a meaningful perspective. Some districts and schools have found that rather than listing total amount that sharing budget information with per-unit analysis, comparison to other districts and schools, and/or consideration of spending trends can be helpful. (5)
  • Recognizing and addressing inequities. If we expect equally high outcomes for all students, differential investments may be required. As districts and schools plan for addressing the needs of all students there may be some areas where investment may be needed for targeted groups of students to achieve an equitable outcomes for all students. (6)
  • Investing fully. Budgeting is an annual process with multiyear implications. Given the level of funding and cost of operating schools it is often necessary to build programs over time. Districts and schools that have taken a multiyear approach to planning and budgeting are able to more fully invest and sustain focus on programs and initiatives.
Questions: Quality Schooling Framework | | 916-319-0836 
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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