Evaluating Intradistrict Resource Allocation and its Implications for Equity: A Case Study

Thumbnail Image
Degree type
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Graduate group
intradistrict resource allocation
resource allocation
School finance
Educational Administration and Supervision
Education Policy
Grant number
Copyright date
Related resources

Financial and human capital resources play a vital role in the ability of a school to fulfill its mission of educating students. Access to these resources varies - and this variation is often due to districts' allocation of resources among schools. Research on equity often disregards this concern and focuses attention on differences among district-wide revenue sources. My dissertation explores the implications for equity of intradistrict resource allocation through an examination of school disparities and district practices in a mid-sized urban school district. First, I establish a comprehensive equity framework which joins together principles of adequacy and vertical equity. Then, using financial, personnel, student enrollment/ demographic, and student achievement and behavior data from the Allentown, Pennsylvania School District (ASD), I employ a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods to ascertain how resources are directed to schools in accordance with the comprehensive equity framework. I describe resource allocation using horizontal equity statistics and I provide context by evaluating the relationship between student outcomes and attending a particular school. Subsequently, I test: adequacy, looking at school outcomes for the entire student population and various subgroups with higher needs; vertical equity, identifying how inputs are allocated differentially based on schools' characteristics and demographics; and, comprehensive equity, a construct incorporating both adequacy and vertical equity designed to measure the justness of the district's approach to resource allocation. I also measure the portion of resource allocation in unexplained by vertical and comprehensive equity and conduct a simulation of weighted student funding. Qualitative analysis, comprised of interviews with district administrative personnel - at the central office and in schools - provides context and the rationale for district resource allocation policies. Overall findings uncover a misalignment between school-level student needs and resources in the ASD. Results are strongest when considering human capital resources, including teacher effectiveness and teacher efficacy. Based on my findings, I conclude that the ASD does not achieve comprehensive equity in school year 2009-2010. This case study provides a window into equal educational opportunity within school districts and offers a template for districts seeking to determine the extent to which they are serving students equitably.

Richard M. Ingersoll
Date of degree
Date Range for Data Collection (Start Date)
Date Range for Data Collection (End Date)
Digital Object Identifier
Series name and number
Volume number
Issue number
Publisher DOI
Journal Issue
Recommended citation