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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.

Measures of Last Resort: Assessing Strategies for State-Initiated Turnarounds

This paper provides the first comprehensive review of the research to date on state interventions, assessing the advantages and limits of five common turnaround approaches and outlining key ingredients for success.

Linking State and Local School Improvement

The new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) gives heavy deference to “local control.” School districts, charter schools, and communities are meant to be in the driver’s seat. And they are. States don’t improve student...

Wells Fargo and the Atlanta Schools Testing Scandal

To people in education, the Wells Fargo scandal sounds eerily familiar. Top executives tried to increase performance by setting ambitious goals for opening new accounts, and attaching big rewards and penalties. Managers believed internal reports...

Can High Standards and Accountability Co-Exist? Lessons From the Common Core Assessment Consortia

The Common Core State Standards Initiative was designed to solve a problem that has plagued past standard-setting efforts. Many states responded to earlier efforts by watering down their standards for learning and lowering expectations for...

The State Role in K–12 Education: From Issuing Mandates to Experimentation

Betheny Gross and Paul Hill discuss the challenges and opportunities for state-level experimentation created by the Every Student Succeeds Act, in the Harvard Law and Policy Review.

The Politics of the Common Core Assessments

CRPE research analyst Ashley Jochim and Drew University associate professor Patrick McGuinn explore why states are abandoning the assessments aligned with Common Core State Standards.

The State of Florida Takes a Leadership Role in District-Charter Collaboration: An Interview with Adam Emerson

The Florida Department of Education has provided two competitive grants to Duval County and Miami-Dade County to foster district-charter collaboration. CRPE research analyst Sean Gill spoke with Adam Emerson, the Florida Department of Education’s charter...

What States Can Do to Promote District-Charter Collaboration

This paper explores opportunities for state education agencies to leverage their unique assets to advance district-charter collaboration..

Waive the Waivers

This piece was originally published as part of Fordham’s 2016 Wonkathon in response to the question: What are the “sleeper provisions” of ESSA that might encourage the further expansion of parental choice, at least if...

Principals Are Not at the Top of States’ Talent Agenda—But They Should Be

Teachers have been at the center of most states’ talent discussions to date. Although principals play a critical role in virtually all school-improvement reform efforts, most states lack a coherent school leadership strategy. This is...

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