Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type



Graduate School


Public Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Eugenia Toma


Public K-12 education is a large enterprise in the United States. Through local, state and federal sources, the U.S. allocated over $610 billion to K-12 public education in 2009 (NCES). Not only is the commitment of public funds for education substantial, the provision of K-12 education is primarily administered by the government in non-market settings through local school districts. It is this institutional environment that generates the impetus for evaluating how those in education make choices in the absence of markets.

Like traditional markets, non-market solutions often fail because the incentives facing individuals and agencies elicit choices which produce outcomes that are divergent from those which could be considered Pareto optimal. Examining these incentives and the resulting choices allows researchers to identify unintended consequences of policy and better inform policy design and reform. This dissertation endeavors to identify some of these incentives and to empirically examine their effects on the choices made by teachers and administrators.

Chapter two recognizes that teaching effectiveness may motivate teacher choice into relatively more rigorous professional development. The empirical results suggest that teachers with a past history of relative ineffectiveness are selecting into the professional development program examined. The subsequent effectiveness of the in-service training is mixed.

High stakes testing and school accountability are an increasing part of our K-12 education system. Chapter three acknowledges it is plausible that administrators may choose to place more students into class rooms of more effective teachers to maximize school performance. However, because of tenure and salary constraints they may choose to place fewer students into the class rooms of more effective teachers to reward their performance. Results overall indicate that more effective teachers have larger classes.

Chapter four examines school district budget uncertainty and its relation to contingency funds. The institutional ambiguity of the definition of contingency funds allows a significant amount of choice for administrators to determine fund size and use. This chapter finds that administrators may be less sensitive to budget uncertainty and more responsive to the desire for budget fungibility. This dissertation concludes by addressing implications and future research.



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