Reaching Capacity: A Blueprint for the State Role in Improving Low Performing Schools and Districts

Jennifer Leischer

Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy at MassINC
Spring 2005

Even after setting high standards and developing a strong accountability system (for which the Bay State has won plaudits), Massachusetts's education work is far from over. Low-performing districts and schools lack the capacity and infrastructure to make student achievement soar. Instead of simply giving more money to districts and schools, the study asserts that the state should provide technical assistance or contract out such duties to help the low-performers improve. This paper identifies several areas where the state could play a larger role: curriculum and professional development, assessment and data, and leadership building. The authors interviewed principals, superintendents, and others involved in Massachusetts education policy, as well as experts in other states, to frame the needs and capabilities of districts, schools, and state education departments. No state has a perfect system in place, but the authors sketch a "model state role" for Massachusetts and beyond. They also identify obstacles that impede their recommendations. Overall, a perceptive inquiry into steps that a state already headed in the right direction can take to move itself further down the road to academic achievement. See it here.

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