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Focus Area:
Accountability and State Oversight

State legislatures, governors, advocacy groups, and citizens are calling on state education agencies (SEAs) to do more to drive changes in K-12 education. In order to meet these new demands, states will need to restructure work along several fronts, including brokering support to struggling schools and districts, raising standards and expectations, addressing weaknesses in the teacher and principal labor market, and strengthening connections between early childhood education, K-12, higher education, and careers. They will need to act on these issues at a time of constrained resources. Our work explores how SEAs can meet the increasing demands they face.

We ask:

  • What capacities need to be developed for SEAs to act on their reform agenda?
  • How can SEAs balance their compliance responsibilities with demand for services and public oversight of K-12?
  • What can state legislatures, governors, advocacy groups, and other parties do to support the work of SEAs?

Envisioning the SEA of the FutureCRPE contributes an annual volume to the Building State Capacity and Productivity Center, a U.S. Department of Education-funded center that provides technical assistance to states. The SEA of the Future examines how SEAs are adapting to the growing demands for productivity in the face of tight fiscal realities.

State Regulatory Frameworks for Portfolio Cities State legal frameworks deeply influence how well a city can pursue the portfolio strategy. With the right leadership, cities can work to transform local public education, but they can be more successful when their state provides a policy environment that supports transformation. What changes in state law are needed to allow full implementation of the portfolio strategy? To answer this question, CRPE has mapped state barriers as well as proposed solutions relating to each element of the portfolio strategy, showing what a state can do to allow a city to advance its school system. CRPE has translated this work into model legislation, which provides not only a robust pathway for cities wishing to pursue the portfolio strategy, but also incorporates complementary education solutions, including a new conceptualization of local school boards, independent administration of education facilities, and remedies to district financial crises.

Statewide districts: A way to unleash creative new learning options—and study them as they grow

How can school systems possibly find the bandwidth to act on new visions for public education when their leaders are constantly trapped in crisis mode? One particular mechanism might allow them to pull this off:...

Lessons from the Trenches: Sustaining Improvements after State Takeover

This report provides key lessons for states seeking to make improvements in districts and schools navigating a transition to local control.

Creating District-Charter Partnerships in the Lone Star State

The State of Texas passed an innovation law (Senate Bill 1882) in summer 2017 to foster partnership schools, much like those profiled in CRPE’s recent brief. CRPE research analyst Sean Gill spoke with Molly Weiner,...

Dear States: Don’t forget about us. Love, the 95% of your schools not slated for turnaround.

As states unfurl their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans, we’ve been hearing a common dialog from state education leaders—promising on the one hand, troubling on the other. PromisingState leaders are taking seriously the mandate...

The “City of Firsts” Charts a New Path on Turnaround

This case study profiles the unique school improvement effort in Springfield, MA, and compares it with other turnaround strategies.

Tapping the Political Power of State Chiefs

Many have observed that the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act provides states a prime opportunity to support improvement in K-12 education. But can state chiefs, historically weak and with few formal powers, deliver?...

The Power of Persuasion: A Model for Effective Political Leadership by State Chiefs

Paul Hill and Ashley Jochim offer ideas and examples for how state chiefs can best use their powers to effectively lead the improvement of schools and districts.

Six Unifying Education Policy Ideas for 2017

Polarization was the theme of 2016, and we’d be kidding ourselves to think that will be much different in 2017. Still, there has rarely been more need for new ideas that people can begin to...

“Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick”: Why State Chiefs Should Do Both

In the ongoing debate about federal and state roles in K–12 public education, states got a leg up with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It renounces the strong regulatory role that...

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