In back-to-back days last week, I had the chance to spend time with different groups of leaders interested in improving state-level reform work.
These conversations were very different than the philosophical fights about the advisability of big reforms like educator effectiveness and Common Core. They were also different than discussions of school- and district-level activities, like Success Academy’s test scores or district staffing patterns.
Both sets of conversations are very important, and I regularly take part in both. But I think too little attention is given to a third set of activities, the state-level work sitting between the two.
State governments are the entities ultimately responsible, under state constitutions, for ensuring kids have access to great schools. This means state governments need to handle funding formulas, longitudinal data system, the adoption of standards and assessments, the monitoring of big federal programs, and more.
The two meetings I participated in addressed different aspects of state-level activity. One was about the smart, careful implementation of new standards and assessments. The other was about figuring out the best way to execute all of the state’s responsibilities, whether through the traditional SEA or through other approaches (per the argument in our At the Helm, Not the Oar report).
Much could be said about these meetings and the takeaways. But I was reminded, once again, that many federal policymakers often just assume that a new federal program, reporting requirement, or funding stream will automatically and...