No Child Left Behind and Administrative Costs: A Resource Dependence Study of Local School Districts

Stephen R. Neely


This study considers the impact of federal funding on the administrative expenditures of local school districts since the passage of the No-Child-Left-Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. Under NCLB, federal education funds were made contingent upon a variety of accountability and reporting standards, creating new administrative costs and challenges for local school districts. According to the premises of resource dependence theory, these increases in administrative costs will likely be most pronounced among those local districts with the greatest reliance on federal revenue. Repeated measures models are constructed for a multi-state sample of public school districts to test the extent to which these policy changes may be influencing administrative expenditures at the local level. While effect sizes are small, the results do demonstrate a significant resource dependence effect, suggesting that districts with greater reliance on federal revenue are experiencing larger increases in administrative expenditures over time.


No child left behind; resource dependence theory; fiscal federalism; education policy

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Copyright (c) 2019 Stephen R. Neely


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