Date of Award


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Thesis open access


The quality of k-12 education has been a major concern in the nation for years. School systems, just like many other social networks, appear to have a hierarchical structure. Understanding this structure could be the key to better evaluate student performance and improve school quality. Many researches have been focusing on detecting hierarchical structure by using hierarchical clustering algorithms. Compared to existing methods, we design an interaction-based similarity measure to accomplish hierarchical clustering in order to detect hierarchical structures in social networks (e.g. school district networks). This method uses a Multi-agent System for it is based on agent interactions. With the network structure detected, we also build a model, which is inspired by the MAXQ algorithm, to decompose funding policy task into subtask and then evaluate these subtasks by using funding distribution policies from past years and looking for possible relationships between student performances and funding policies. For experiment, we use real school data from Bexar county’s 15 school districts. The first result shows that our interaction based method is able to generate meaningful clustering and dendrogram for social networks. And our policy evaluation model is able to evaluate funding policies from past three years in Bexar County and conclude that increasing funding does not necessarily have a positive impact on student performance and it is generally not the case that the more spend the better.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.