Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Louise L. MacKay

Committee Members

Cecil N. Blankenship, Russell F. West, Terrence A. Tollefson


Tennessee is experiencing a budget crisis related to the dollar amount per-pupil expended on kindergarten- through 12th-grade education when compared to other states. Public schools across America are operating in a time of increased expectations. Recent legislative initiatives at both the state and federal level have created new systems of testing and performance standards that will hold schools and teachers accountable for students' achievement. Given the rapid changes that are being made, many state policymakers have noted the importance of designing better financial schemes for public schools with sufficient resources to meet the demand for better education; however, funding and accountability are difficult when creating an alignment between the two.

Issues surrounding the financing of public education are complicated. Whereas a quality education is universally understood to be an essential component of students' development and social mobility, the specific policies surrounding the allocation of funds to school districts in Tennessee are complex and based on formulas that are often only understood by experts.

The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the perceptions of various school directors and administrators in both small and large systems across the state as to the best way to fund kindergarten- through 12th-grade education in a more adequate and equitable manner. Data were collected through audio-taped interviews and transcribed for inductive analysis.

The participants' perceptions about their level of satisfaction of the current Basic Education Program's (BEP) funding of kindergarten- through 12th-grade education in Tennessee were very favorable. Fewer than 90% of school district officials agreed that there should be an established set of criteria that define a standard of adequacy. Because some schools need more money than others do, participants said this inability to raise sufficient revenue must be addressed through state legislation. All 20 participants stated that equity and adequacy remained a problem in the BEP and each gave suggestions and identified some areas in which to begin correcting the discrepancies. All 20 participants said that they thought the BEP was a much better funding mechanism, overall, than the old Tennessee Foundation Program (TFP) for both large and small systems.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.