NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED561070
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Jun
Pages: 36
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Help Wanted: Flexibility for Innovative State Education Agencies
Murphy, Patrick
Center for American Progress
State education agencies, or SEAs, are being asked-and in some cases, forced-to make operational changes in the name of school improvement. New laws and expectations are pushing them to play a greater role in managing school performance, displacing to a significant degree their decades-old responsibility for monitoring local school districts for compliance with federal and state programs. Moving toward school improvement, however, requires a new way of doing things, often involving reconfigured priorities, staff positions, and processes within these agencies. This transition is taking place while overall state education department funding has remained flat, at best, or declined in many states. Consequently, SEAs are looking for ways to do more with less, shifting resources within the agency to align with new priorities. Ironically, the most visible force pushing SEAs to play a more substantive role in managing and improving school performance is also one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of efforts to realign funds for that purpose-the federal government. Two factors combine to create this situation. First, federal grants supply a surprisingly large share of the resources that support state-level education administration. Second, those funds come to the state with a number of strings attached-namely, reporting requirements and restrictions about how the funds are used. State education administrators looking to combine similar responsibilities and focus resources for school improvement are beginning to bump up against these restrictions. This paper examines what the federal government might do to get out of SEAs' way as they work to reinvent themselves. In doing so, it attempts to answer three questions: (1)What role do federal dollars play in supporting the work of SEAs; (2) What are the constraints that SEAs face in using or repurposing federal resources as they look to innovate and support improved student outcomes; and (3) What could be done to facilitate more flexibility from the federal level? To answer these questions, state and federal documents, were reviewed, state administrators and education regulatory law experts, were reviewed and prior research was studied. The paper first provides a context for understanding how SEAs have been forced to shift out of the role of compliance monitor and into that of performance manager. It then describes how state agencies allocate their resources and the critical role that the federal government plays in that distribution.
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; Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation