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News Release from Comptroller Susan Combs

For Immediate Release
September 17, 2009

Comptroller to Evaluate Public Schools’ Academic Accountability and Financial Data

(AUSTIN) — In an effort to improve academic achievement and encourage more effective use of public education dollars, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs will conduct a study of school district resource allocation practices that contribute to high academic achievement and cost-effective operations. The study is required by House Bill 3 enacted by the 81st Legislature.

“Public education spending will continue to grow as our population increases and as state policymakers recognize the important role our schools play in preparing the work force necessary for a strong economy,” Combs said. “This study will be a complete analysis of what schools are spending and their academic outcomes.”

The Comptroller will use the resources and expertise of the Education Research Center at the University of Texas – Dallas, the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service. The Texas Education Agency, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, school superintendents, outside experts and other education stakeholders will also contribute to the study.

“To make this study cost effective, we will use data that exists at the Education Research Center at the University of Texas – Dallas,” Combs said. “School districts will have access to our results free of charge. I look forward to sharing our results and methodology through a publicly accessible Web site. We are committed to assisting our public schools and improving statewide academic achievement by identifying financial efficiency and best practices.”

HB3 requires the Comptroller to evaluate existing academic accountability and financial data by integrating the data; to rank the results of the evaluation to identify the relative performance of districts and campuses; and to identify potential areas for district and campus improvement. The legislation also requires the Comptroller to evaluate the operating cost for each student, the operating cost for each program and the staffing cost for each student.

Combs said the study will be a cutting-edge state project serving the public interest, for the benefit of all Texans. The study is expected to be completed in late 2010, before the next legislative session.

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