Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Teresa S. Jordan

Second Committee Member

Gene Hall

Third Committee Member

Chad Cross

Fourth Committee Member

James Hager

Fifth Committee Member

Martha Young

Number of Pages



For decades educational researchers have attempted to find links between school funding and student achievement. These attempts have generated many contradictory viewpoints and have produced many unanswered questions. Ever increasing accountability on states, districts and schools combined with severe financial strain has made measuring school fiscal efficiency a valuable tool for school leaders looking to get more student achievement with fewer resources.

The methodology for this study was comprised of two phases. Phase I analyzed the per pupil expenditures of Nevada elementary schools over a three-year period and developed descriptive statistics that revealed the expenditure patterns by category. Phase II used a micro-level economic approach and data envelopment analysis to ascertain the relative efficiency of Nevada elementary schools over a three year period. Expenditure patterns of the most and least efficient schools were examined.

The major findings of the study included overall per pupil expenditures were found to increase 15% between FY06 and FY08 with the majority of spending in the category of Instruction. While the largest percentage of overall per pupil expenditures was spent on teachers and instructional para-professionals, the smallest percentage was spent on teacher support.

Additionally, significant differences in per-pupil expenditures were found, with schools, also known as decision making units (DMUs), in the High Efficiency group spending significantly more than all other groups overall and in the main In$ite categories of Instruction and Operations. The Low Efficiency group spent significantly more per pupil on Instructional Support and Leadership.

Also, DMUs identified as High Efficient spent significantly more per pupil on classroom personnel and direct support of those personnel. High Efficient schools spent more money on teachers and paraprofessionals than any other group. In addition, High Efficient schools spent more money on Curriculum Development and Staff Development than other schools. By contrast, schools identified as Low Efficient spent significantly more on non-classroom related instructional support.

Additional findings include the relationship between efficiency score and %notFRL among Nevada elementary schools included in the study was r =.342. While this correlation is considered weak, it was greater than the relationship between Nevada secondary schools and %notFRL with r = -.082 over the same time period (Welsh, 2011).

Informing educational leaders of how schools spend money and the efficiency of those decisions relative to student achievement outcomes may assist schools and districts in making future efficient and effective allocation decisions. Additionally, this study lays a foundation for future qualitative studies related to fiscal efficiency and school level decision making.


Academic achievement; Data Envelopment Analysis; DEA; Downward Accounting; Education – Costs; Education – Finance; Educational accountability; Elementary schools; Expenditures; School Finance


Educational Leadership | Education Policy | Finance

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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