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Connecting resources to student achievement: Synthesis of a resource-based model to assess district performance during education reform in Massachusetts from 2001–2006

Peter Simpson, Johnson & Wales University


This study synthesizes a resource-based model to assess the performance of districts as an indicator of student achievement on standardized assessments. The problem that the model addresses is that performance measurement and the associated decision-making is indeterminate. There is a lack of empirical research that relates decision-making about resource utilization to performance. This study is a causal-comparative strategy that utilizes structuralism to assess the relationship between the independent variable of resource utilization and the dependent variable performance. The study uses Complex Adaptive System theory as a framework for the Concept Mapping methodology. The study is grounded in theories from Complex Adaptive Systems and Microeconomics that state that performance is a function of capacity. An adaptation of the generic value chain (Porter, 1985) is designed as a representation of the education delivery systems for N=7 districts. Previous sequences in this research project have established performance levels and variations from the independent variable of socioeconomic status for N=85 districts (Simpson, Kite, & Gable, 2007; Simpson, Kite, & Gable, 2008a; Simpson, Kite, & Gable, 2008b). The concept maps are developed using multi-trait multi-method matrixes. The output is relational generic value chain concept maps that illustrate the nature, magnitude, strength and underlying relationships for thematic patterns of resource utilization for the N=7 districts, which are a subset of the N=85 districts. The primary finding is that triangulation between sequences1-3 with concept mapping provide an empirical methodology to assess the relationship between resource utilization and district performance. The concept maps provide an explanation for some of the variation in performance that does not relate to socioeconomic status. The explanation of variability in performance represented by the concept maps is intended for diagnostic applications, not to establish best-practices that can be transferred from high performing to low performing districts. The primary application of the model is for strategic or intervention planning.

Subject Area

Education finance|School administration

Recommended Citation

Simpson, Peter, "Connecting resources to student achievement: Synthesis of a resource-based model to assess district performance during education reform in Massachusetts from 2001–2006" (2009). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3355058.