Smarter School Spending

Smarter School Spending - 2A - Develop Goals

The Format for Goals: The SMARTER Framework

The SMARTER goal framework allows the district to test its goals against seven characteristics of effective goals, where each letter of the SMARTER acronym signifies one characteristic:

  • Specific - The goal is precise about the outcome or result that the district wishes to achieve.
  • Measurable - The goal can be measured. Not only should the goal be verifiable, but it should also, ideally, be quantifiable.
  • Achievable - The goal is rooted in an understanding of the district’s current strategic environment, including factors such as current levels of student achievement, professional capacity of the district’s staff, the learning climate in schools, and the instructional guidance system.
  • Relevant - Foremost, goals should focus on results or outcomes that matter most to students’ academic success. Goals also may need to address improving elements of the strategic environment.
  • Time-bound - The goal should identify a time period for achieving the goal as well as interim milestones where incremental progress will occur.
  • Engaging - The goal reaches for ambitious, yet realistic, improvement in student achievement and organizational performance.
  • Resourced - The district has the capacity to achieve its goals and has aligned and coordinated its resources accordingly. The budget is the process by which goals are resourced

Defining Goals and Distributing Goals to Schools

The district’s SMARTER goals establish the levels of performance that the district will work toward at the regional (if applicable), district, and school-site levels.

  • Assess the district’s strategic environment
    The district must understand where it is today in order to best develop a goal for where it wants to be. The most important aspect of a district’s strategic environment is current levels of student achievement.
  • Set SMARTER goals for multi-year district-wide improvement
    Based on a review of the strategic environment, a district should have a better understanding of what it can reasonably expect to achieve over the next one, two, three, four, and five years; where the most improvement may be needed; and where status quo conditions are acceptable.
  • Understand baseline performance at the school level.
    Understanding the current performance levels at individual school sites (including historical trends and future projections, when available) provides insight into the degree of improvement required across schools, in classrooms, and at the level of each individual student (if possible). The gap between the level of desired performance expressed by the district-wide goals and the current level of performance within individual school sites should be assessed.
  • Set school site goals.
    Informed by the gap between desired district-wide performance and current district-wide performance, as well as the relative performance of individual school sites, goals can be set for each school, including goals for improvement by classroom and categories of students.


  • Level 1: Goals are specific about the outcomes the district wants and reach for significant, but manageable improvement. Some sources of evidence identified to determine if goals are being met. Goals are set by top management with board. Goals are also limited in number in order to remain focused on key areas.
  • Level 2: Goals are specific about the outcomes desired and reach for significant improvement, informed by analysis of what is achievable. Goals have multi-year time-frame for achievement with a sense of resource requirements. Evidence includes some quantitative measurement. An effort made to reach outside of top management and board to set the goals.
  • Level 3: Fully realized SMARTER goals set through an inclusive and collaborative process.

Quick Wins

  • Quick Win: Examine current goals to see if they conform to SMARTER framework - decide if goals not being SMARTER is hurting the district and how/why?
  • Why important? Sets impetus for improving district’s foundation and overall direction.
  • How does this help district control/own process? Assesses district’s current state and determines if goal refinement/development is needed


Best Practice 2A - Develop Goals

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Case Studies - Lake County, FL

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