Through strategic resource allocation analysis and applied research, including budget reviews and finance studies, we uncover opportunities for improving educational performance and equity. In addition, we work with leaders to develop a customized implementation plan for how to align system structures, policies, resources, and processes with the state and/or district educational goals.
We bring our expertise and a holistic approach to help leaders enact sustainable, transformational change within K–12 education, as well as in early childhood education, higher education, special education, and other educational systems.
This is one of the most robust and thoughtful and meticulously researched studies on school finance in the country and in the history of school finance litigation. WestEd should be commended on this incredible body of work.”
– Rick Glazer, Executive Director of the North Carolina Justice Center, in reference to WestEd’s North Carolina Education Finance Study
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How We Can Help
Our staff have deep expertise in strategic resource allocation, applied research, stakeholder engagement, and continuous improvement. We use these strategies to illuminate systems — including organizational, fiscal, and value systems — within a state or district. Through a collaborative process, we then determine how the state or district’s structures, policies, resources, and processes can more effectively serve its goals.
Strategic Resource Allocation
Strategic resource allocation ensures that resources are aligned with evidence-based practices and with your short- and long-term goals. To support this effort, we provide services including:
- School funding formula reviews
- Adequacy cost studies (e.g., cost function analyses, professional judgment panels)
- Technical assistance
- Implementation planning and support
- Program resource reviews (e.g., for special education programs)
We help leaders develop high-quality strategies to support systemic improvement and advance equity. We provide:
- Strategic planning and system redesign
- Stakeholder engagement
- Implementation planning and support
- Analysis of governance and accountability systems
- Coaching on continuous improvement methods and implementation
- Organizational reviews (structures, processes, etc.)
We have partnered with state, regional, and school district leaders nationwide to build organizational capacity for strategic resource use and systemwide improvement.
Below is a list featured projects which illustrate the depth and breadth of our work. To see a full, alphabetized list of our projects, select
Arkansas Cost Adequacy Education Finance Study
WestEd has partnered with Augenblick, Palaich, and Associates (APA) to produce an education finance study for the State of Arkansas. This includes cost function analyses and professional judgment panels to examine the relationship between spending and student outcomes, as well as case studies of districts that are “beating the odds,” and mixed-methods research to recommend a definition of college and career readiness for the state.
California Bright Spots/Continuous Improvement Models
WestEd developed and piloted a mixed-methods research methodology to identify “bright spots” or “continuous improvement models” — schools or districts whose underserved student populations are outperforming statistical expectations. After using this methodology to identify an exemplary district, WestEd worked with the district and its local county office of education to begin organizing learning visits and scaling the district’s successful practices.
North Carolina Education Finance Study
WestEd conducted a cost adequacy and resource allocation study for the State of North Carolina, including researching: how much funding is needed to provide a “sound basic education,” how to revise the state funding formula to improve equitable distribution, and what supports and/or systems need to be in place to ensure the funds are spent efficiently and effectively.
Orange County Office of Education Professional Development on Improvement Science
Through a combination of in-person and virtual sessions, WestEd partnered with the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) to build the capacity of OCDE coordinators to use principles of improvement science to help determine the impact their work is having on districts and their Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) improvement efforts.
Utah Education Finance Study
WestEd is conducting a study evaluating Utah’s school finance system to determine the extent to which current funding formulas meet their intended purposes and provide equitable access to education in the state. The study also provides recommendations regarding how existing resources could more effectively be leveraged to meet the state’s goals and raise student achievement.
Supporting California’s Children Through a Whole Child Approach: A Field Guide for Creating Integrated, School-Based Systems of Care
Budgeting for Educational Equity Podcast Series Episode 9: Key Ingredients for Making Good Decisions – Especially When You’re in the Pressure Cooker
Leading Voices: Sustaining Investments for Impactful Student Learning Strategies — Planning for the Inevitability of a Fiscal Cliff
Budgeting for Educational Equity Podcast Series Episode 8: Don’t Just Accelerate, Navigate: One School District’s Approach to System Improvement and Equity During the Pandemic
Budgeting for Educational Equity Podcast Series Episode 7: The Locus of Local Control – Revisiting the LCFF, Part Two
Budgeting for Educational Equity Podcast Series Episode 6: Revisiting the LCFF, California’s Landmark School Funding Reform, Part One
- Judith EnnisJudith Ennis is a Senior Engagement Manager at WestEd. She provides technical assistance and project leadership in the areas of early childhood education, resource allocation/finance, organizational development, systems change, and policy analysis with an overarching focus on expanding equity. Ennis serves as a lead of the Universal Pre-Kindergarten team under California’s initiative for early learning and previously served as Deputy Director of the Center to Improve Social and Emotional Learning and School Safety.View Full Bio
- Alexander JacobsonAlexander Jacobson is a Senior Research Associate at WestEd. His research projects have included several education cost adequacy studies, a replication study of returns to teacher experience, and policy analysis of state funding formulas in several states. Previously, Jacobson worked for the American Institutes for Research (AIR). Jacobson has an MPP from Georgetown University and has worked in a variety of public policy settings, including the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent and the U.S. Department of Education.View Full Bio
- Kelsey KrausenKelsey Krausen, PhD, is a Senior Engagement Manager at WestEd. Her areas of expertise include accountability systems, education finance, and systems improvement. Krausen has worked on a range of a research projects including research on early implementation of California’s Statewide System of Support, research on North Carolina’s school finance system, and an investigation of continuous improvement practices in California school districts. View Full Bio
- Felicia ReedFelicia Reed is a Systems Transformation Specialist at WestEd. She provides technical assistance to state and local education agencies across the US to promote more equitable student outcomes. Reed previously served at the Rhode Island Department of Education and various national education nonprofits. She holds an MEd in School Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an EdM in Educational Leadership from The Broad Center.View Full Bio
- Sean TannerSean Tanner, PhD, is a Senior Research Associate at WestEd. He has expertise in the economics of education, education policy, and methods of causal inference. His substantive research agenda focuses on the causes and consequences of inequality in children’s human capital and its relation to lifetime socioeconomic status, with a particular focus on education policy’s ability to intervene and shape this relationship. He received a PhD in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.View Full Bio
- Jason WillisJason Willis is the Area Director of WestEd’s Strategic Resource Planning & Implementation team. Willis has led numerous statewide finance studies, advised nearly two dozen states on the formation of their funding and accountability systems, and written on topics of school finance and resource allocation strategies. Previously, Willis was an Assistant Superintendent with the San Jose Unified School District, Chief Financial Officer at Stockton Unified School District, and Budget Director at Oakland Unified School District.View Full Bio