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ERIC Number: ED522627
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jul
Pages: 52
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 17
State Education Agencies as Agents of Change: What It Will Take for the States to Step Up on Education Reform
Brown, Cynthia G.; Hess, Frederick M.; Lautzenheiser, Daniel K.; Owen, Isabel
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Today, state education agencies (SEAs) and their leaders face unprecedented demands. What was once a low-profile job of managing federal aid, providing curricular guidance, and ensuring compliance with various legal obligations is now a far more visible and politically fraught task. The new roles required of state education agencies due to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which required each state to adopt standards, assessments, and accountability programs, and the Obama administration's Race to the Top program, which encouraged and rewarded selected states proposing significant reforms, now push these state agencies more and more into the public spotlight. Heightened attention to issues such as turning around low-performing schools, fixing state data systems, and improving teacher evaluations all require state education officials to play a new and far more demanding role, often under the scrutiny of the media spotlight. These changes have put immense stress on agencies that were initially conceived as tiny departments primarily designed to funnel money to local school districts. Yet it is not at all clear that state education agencies are prepared for this demanding new role or that their leaders are equipped for the challenge. Specifically: (1) What do individuals know about SEA capacity to be effective leaders in school reform?; (2) What are the obstacles that inhibit them from most effectively tackling today's challenges?; (3) What has experience taught the most successful state education chiefs what their role should look like?; and (4) What can reformers or policymakers do to help prepare SEAs for these new challenges? These questions were too rarely asked over the past decade, resulting in state agencies that are unequipped for the duties they now must fulfill. In this paper the authors set out to answer these questions. They turned to the people with the most understanding of the inner workings of the agencies: the SEA chief They identified 13 of the most innovative and successful former and current chiefs and interviewed them about what they see as the obstacles to implementing reform and how, despite these challenges, they were able to move their agency forward. The authors detail their research and provide a list of their findings and recommendations. State education agency staffing levels are appended. (Contains 35 endnotes.) [This report was sponsored by Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.]
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. 1150 Seventeenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-862-5800; Fax: 202-862-7177; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Elementary and Secondary Education Act; No Child Left Behind Act 2001; Race to the Top