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ERIC Number: ED561068
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-May
Pages: 28
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
The Rise of Networks: How Decentralized Management Is Improving Schools
Kelleher, Maureen
Center for American Progress
School districts across the country are shifting away from their traditional management paradigm--a central office that directs its schools through uniform mandates and policies--toward a new vision where district leaders support autonomous schools while holding them accountable for student performance. The advent of new governance mechanisms between districts and schools that have come with the rise of charter schools, contract schools, and various systems that allow district-managed schools greater freedom of action in hiring, budgeting, and instructional planning has transformed the command-and-control relationships that were long the hallmark of public school management. As a consequence, school-district leaders increasingly recognize that greater school autonomy requires rethinking their models of district-level management and support. In 2006, New York City pioneered the transformation of the relationship between the central office and its schools by launching an initiative that gave autonomy to all schools regardless of their performance. Today, New York City's public schools are affiliated in networks based on a common interest: a similar type of school, such as an all-elementary-school network; a common instructional approach; or a similar target population, such as English language learners. This report describes the current state of school networks in New York City and outlines the successes and challenges the city has faced in implementing school networks. It also explores how networks have been implemented in other cities--Baltimore, Maryland; Chicago, Illinois; and Denver, Colorado--to show how the school-network concept has been adapted to a variety of local contexts. Educational researchers note that few, if any, urban public school districts consistently provide their schools with effective supports to improve instruction for disadvantaged children. As districts struggle to improve their supports for schools, especially those serving large numbers of disadvantaged students, school networks show promise as an emerging strategy to help schools improve student learning and to solve the operational problems that can suck time and energy away from a focus on instruction.
Center for American Progress. 1333 H Street NW 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-682-1611; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Center for American Progress
Identifiers - Location: Colorado; Illinois; Maryland; New York