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ERIC Number: ED553706
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Apr
Pages: 39
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
The State Education Agency: At the Helm, Not the Oar
Smarick, Andy; Squire, Juliet
Bellwether Education Partners
Never before has more been asked of State Education Agencies (SEAs), commonly known as state departments of education. In recent years, policymakers at the state and federal level have viewed the SEA as the default entity for implementing new and sweeping K-12 initiatives--everything from Race to the Top grants and SEA waivers to teacher evaluation reform and digital learning. But SEAs were designed--and evolved over decades--to address a relatively narrow set of tasks: distributing state and federal dollars, monitoring the use of these funds, and overseeing the implementation of federal and state education programs. They were not created--nor have they developed the core competencies--to drive crucial reforms. This report will provide a brief overview of how the SEA evolved into its current form, enumerate some challenges SEAs have experienced in implementing recent reforms, and explain the constraints that can confound even the most determined and skilled SEA leaders. The second section proposes a number of strategies state and federal policymakers can use to identify the responsibilities best suited to the SEA and delegate those better left to different--and possibly yet-to-be-created--organizations. The final section considers the implications, rewards, and risks of this new approach.
Bellwether Education Partners. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Carnegie Corporation of New York; Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
Authoring Institution: Bellwether Education Partners; Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Identifiers - Location: Colorado; Louisiana; New York; Tennessee
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Race to the Top