PK-12 Budgeting - Evaluating Options

Example of Evaluating Options

A model for evaluating a district’s options to pursue one instructional priority over another should present all of the options together and evaluate them along common criteria. This helps make sure all participants in the evaluation process are looking at the same information and helps them to consider multiple criteria against which to judge a given option.

The objective when evaluating options is solely to determine which options are more desirable than others, rather than to determine the absolute cost/benefit of each option. Therefore, a relatively simple evaluation model will suffice.

Exhibit 1 (below) provides a hypothetical simple evaluation table. First, the table lists evaluation criteria along the left-hand side. These are the same evaluation criteria described in the Best Practices in School Budgeting, 2D - Evaluate Choices amongst Instructional Priorities document. The table then invites participants to rate each of the options against each criterion. It is often helpful to use rating categories, such as a 1 through 5 scale, where 5 is the highest score. 

Also, it may be helpful to anchor the rating scale by creating definitions of what would justify various points on the rating scale. For example, the following definitions might be applied to a rating scale for “potential impact on student learning":

  • 5, the highest score: Indicates the practice has proven effective in the district already or is supported by peer-reviewed, experimental evidence that shows a statistically significant improvement in outcomes.
  • 4, a high score: Indicates that the practice has proven effective through published research. Also, the practice is aligned with one of the district’s other instructional priorities.  It has proven effective in the district in the past or is supported by peer-reviewed evidence that shows a statistically significant improvement in outcomes.
  • 3, the middle score: Rates practices that do not rise to a “4” or “5,” but that do clearly merit more than a “1” or “2.”
  • 2, a low score: Indicates the practice is not in alignment with other instructional priorities, but does address a root-cause problem that the district has identified. Some evidence of significant potential impact, either through the district’s own experience or through published research.
  • 1, the lowest score: Indicates the practice is not in alignment with the other instructional priorities, OR does not address a root cause problem that the district has identified, OR no proven track record of effectiveness in the district and no published evidence of effectiveness available.

 

Exhibit 1 – Evaluation Table