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Curriculum Center Browse Bibliography Build EPacket Pricing Structure Distribution Process Management Control in Nonprofit Organizations
Barrington High School
Young, David W.
Functional Area(s):
   Management Control Systems
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Pages: 7
Teaching Note: Available. 
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First Page and the Assignment Questions:
It’s a ridiculous request. Let’s just fill out something and send it back. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this. A 10th grade science teacher
I disagree. It makes a lot of sense. How are we going to argue that we’re doing a good job unless we can prove it with some concrete data? A 12th grade math teacher
Using concrete data is a good idea in the cement industry, but we’re educators. You can’t measure what we do in any way that’s meaningful, and I don’t think we should even try. An 11th grade English teacher

It was clear to Carol Kohn, Principal of Barrington High School, that responding to her new superintendent’s request to develop and monitor performance measures for the 1,500-student high school would be a challenge. The school’s faculty had mixed views of the value of the undertaking, and even if she could garner support, the actual task would take a lot of time and effort— scarce commodities in public education. Nevertheless, she was committed to developing some measures that would be both responsive to the superintendent’s request and, most importantly, useful to her in the ongoing management of the high school.


Barrington High School was part of a large urban school district and faced most of the challenges commonly found in large urban schools. It had a 15 percent annual dropout rate, among the highest in the district. Its attendance rate of 80 percent was about average for the district. A total of 60 percent of the students received reduced-price lunches. It had a diverse student body, with 35 percent black students, 25 percent Asian, 25 percent Latino, and 15 percent white. Barrington offered bilingual education programs in Chinese and Spanish to 25 percent of its students, and another 15 percent participated in special education programs. Only 40 percent of the students planned to attend college after graduating.

The school had experimented with a variety of improvement efforts in recent years, including schools-within-a-school clusters, site based management, and revamping student assessment. Barrington also had developed relationships with several local businesses to provide internships, mentoring programs, and other real-world opportunities to its students. The history of these efforts was generally the same: first enthusiasm and a flurry of work, followed by gradual disillusionment as faculty and staff were faced with uncertain results. Some efforts still lumbered on in name only, while others had withered away entirely. At the same time, there was a growing sense of urgency, both within the school and within the local community. The last administration of the MEAP test showed the school well below the state average, and, more seriously, below its comparison group.


  1. What is the value of the BSC? Why would a for-profit business firm want to develop one?
  2. Do you agree with Ms. Kohn that student performance is the educational equivalent of financial performance in a for-profit enterprise? If not, what is the educational equivalent?
  3. Assuming that student performance is the equivalent of financial performance, what are the educational equivalents of the other three areas shown in the Kaplan/Norton article. What criteria did you use to reach your conclusions?
  4. What role should teachers play in the development of a BSC? How would you respond to Ms. Kohn’s other concerns?
  5. How should Ms. Kohn respond to the superintendent’s request to develop a BSC for Barrington High? What steps should she take next?