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5 Case Studies Showing Improved Performance

Picus Odden and Associates is pleased to provide five additional cases of schools that have significantly improved student performance.  The five school cases are part of the firm’s analysis of the adequacy of Vermont’s school funding system Using the Evidence-Based Method to Identify Adequate Spending Levels for Vermont Schools, which will be posted soon.  The five cases are:

Academy Elementary School
Integrated Academy School
Oak Grove Elementary School
Colchester High School
Fair Haven Union High School


EB Document for Vermont’s Judgment Panel

Draft EB Analysis for review by Vermont’s professional judgment panels. To be reviewed on November 10-11th by Vermont’s professional judgment panels. Final report due in January, 2016.

Pictures of the Select Committee in Cody, Wyoming


Pictures taken at the June 29 30, 2015 meetings of the Select Committee in
Cody, Wyoming.

Hank AllanHank Coe Larry

Allan Odden and Larry Picus featured with Senator Hank Coe, Co-Chair, Wyoming Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration (above) and with Representative David Northrup, Co-Chair, Wyoming Select Committee on
School Finance Recalibration (below).

Northrup AllanNorthrup Larry

Picus & Odden back in Wyoming

Allan Odden and Lawrence Picus have been retained by the Wyoming Legislative Service Office to work with the Legislature’s Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration to update the cost basis of all the elements of the state’s school finance formula. The current funding formula was based on an adequacy study the pair conducted for the state in 2005 and updated five years later during the state’s 2010 recalibration effort.

The work for the 2015 recalibration project draws from an Odden and Picus authored “Desk Audit” of the state’s school finance system that recommended recalibration of many components of the funding model. Odden and Picus met with the Committee on May 21 and 22 in Casper, Wyoming to launch this year’s recalibration effort.

Superintendent Receives Award for Budgeting in Evidence-Based Ways

Randy Poe, Superintendent of Boone County, Kentucky recently was recognized as the 2015 F.L. Dupree Outstanding Superintendent of the Year Award by the Kentucky School Board Association. Poe stated that Boone County has been very successful because it has been forced to look to evidence based finance to finance it operations and align everything to the instructional core.

The book on “Improving Student Learning When Budgets are Tight” is a valuable resource for all districts whether budgets are tight or not. It has been the major resource for our budget committee to establish priorities over time utilizing it as a guide.

Our district is funded $20 million less than the average school district in Kentucky based on per pupil spending for our size but our focus on the right priorities such as instructional coaches allows us to continue to improve academic gains.

Based on School we are in the lowest 10% for funding in the Nation but score in the top 60% in the Nation on academic performance. We truly believe we are that successful because of the Evidence-Based approach to school finance.

Maryland taps Picus Odden and Associates for adequacy study

On June 18, the Maryland Department of Education approved a contract with APA Consulting to conduct a comprehensive school finance adequacy study.  Picus Odden and Associates partnered with APA on this project and is a major subcontractor.  Our firm will conduct an Evidence-Based adequacy analysis for the state, and use the results, in conjunction with the results of two other adequacy methods, to propose a new “base” foundation expenditure per pupil level, together with weights for students from poverty, ELL students and students with disabilities.  The project also will conduct studies of improving schools in multiple contexts.

North Dakota Final Report

On June 2, 2014, Picus Odden and Associates’ Principal Partner Allan Odden met with the Interim Education Funding Committee of the North Dakota Legislature to present the final report on the recalibration of North Dakota’s funding formula.

Of many findings in the report, the recommendations include increasing the Foundation Per Student number (the base adequacy level) from $8,810 to $9,247 and increasing the at-risk student weight, to provide extra help to struggling students from poverty and ELL backgrounds, from 0.05 to 0.20 plus a summer school weight of 0.6.

More Rural School Improvement

The Peninsula K-8 School in coastal Maine is another fascinating case of rural school improvement.  A product of multiple district’s consolidating, this new school opened in 2009; about 2/3 of its students qualify for free and reduced price lunch (FRL).

Among other strategies, it has a common reading and math curriculum K-8, organizes teachers into collaborate work groups, and has a “watch” list for any student performing in the bottom half, who first get individual tutoring, then small group tutoring, and then extended day and summer school extra help. Results are especially impressive for the FRL students.

Another Impressive Example of Rural School Improvement

Etna-Dixmont PK-8 School served 256 students in grades PK-8 during the 2013-2014 school year. The school is located in a mid-Maine rural community that has experienced economic decline as mills, a tannery and a large MBNA calling center exited the area over the past decade.

As a result, the unemployment and poverty rates are high.  Sixty-eight percent of students qualify for free or reduced priced lunch, a number that has been on the rise in recent years, even though school enrollments have held steady.

Despite these conditions, student performance has improved dramatically in several subject areas and multiple grade levels.  This case tells how Etna-Dixmont made these impressive performance gains.

Rural School Improvement

Most cases of schools that dramatically improve student performance profile urban or suburban schools.  Central Aroostook Jr High School is located in rural, northern Maine, up close to the Canadian border.  What the school has done is fascinating, and reflects the strategy for improvement that is embedded in the firm’s Evidence-Based adequacy model.