Smarter School Spending - 2: Set Instructional Priorities

The budget needs to be rooted in the priorities of the district.  Intentionally created instructional priorities provide a strong basis for developing a district’s budget  and strategic financial plan, as well as presenting a budget document.     


  • To develop goals using the SMARTER framework
  • To determine gaps between a school district’s current level of performance and its desired level of performance
  • To research practices shown to improve district performance to determine which practices might help it plan, budget, and attain its student achievement goals.
  • To identify the instructional priorities being considered to increase student achievement


A. Develop goals.

Goals should be thoughtfully developed and structured to be  specific, measurable, and reasonable in order to provide a strong foundation for the  budget process.

B. Identify root cause of gap between goal and current state.

By finding root causes  of problems, a district can identify the most effective solutions to achieving its goals.

C. Research & develop potential instructional priorities.

The district’s instructional  priorities should be informed by practices proven by research and also be limited in  number to focus on items critical to optimizing performance.

D. Evaluate choices amongst instructional priorities.

A district needs to weigh its  different options for achieving its goals against one another in order to focus on those  with the greatest potential for student achievement impact.