Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

William Black, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Leonard Burrello, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Zorka Karanxha, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Jeannie Klienhammer-Tramill, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Anthony Rolle, Ph.D.


District Performance, Economics of Education, School Efficieny, Stochastic Frontier Analysis


This study veers from the traditional perspective of examining school efficiency or productivity as a cost minimizing process, in which educational inputs are minimized to achieve maximum outputs (student performance). Instead, it provides a critical examination of the dominant, cost minimizing assumption associated with efficiency models and suggest schools instead behave similarly to budget maximizers as presented in Niskanen’s (1971) seminal budget maximizing framework. The study examines the relationship between total student expenditures and subsequent student outcomes, establishing the relative efficiency of Texas school districts using stochastic frontier analysis within a budget-maximizing framework. Additionally, the study investigates how special education populations are structured within those districts deemed efficient or inefficient.

The results of the study concluded that district efficient type did not result in different educational outcomes for students with disabilities. While analysis revealed that inefficient districts spend almost twice as much as efficient districts, no other significant differences were identified among districts type based on the percentage of students receiving special education or student performance. This study contributes to the growing need to identify more appropriate estimation techniques for measuring school productivity and how students with special needs should be included in the education productivity conversation.