Policy Barriers to School Improvement: What's Real and What's Imagined?

Education and Literacy

Policy Barriers to School Improvement: What's Real and What's Imagined?

Some of the most promising reforms are happening where school leaders are thinking differently about how to get the strongest student outcomes from the limited resources available. But even principals who use their autonomy to aggressively reallocate resources say that persistent district, state, and federal barriers prohibit them from doing more.

What are these barriers? What do they block principals from doing? Is there a way around them?

CRPE researchers probed these questions with principals in three states (NH, CT, MD). These principals cited numerous district, state, and federal barriers standing in the way of school improvement. The barriers, 128 in all, fell into three categories: 1) barriers to instructional innovations, 2) barriers to allocating resources differently, and 3) barriers to improving teacher quality.

Upon investigation, researchers found that principals have far more authority than they think. Only 31% of the barriers cited were "real" -- immovable statutes, policies, or managerial directives that bring the threat of real consequences if broken.

The report recommends educating principals on the authority they already possess, to help them find workarounds to onerous rules. The report also outlines a number of specific state and district policy changes to grant schools the autonomy they need to improve student outcomes.

June 2014

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Southern)-Maryland, North America-United States (Northeastern)-New Hampshire, North America-United States (Eastern)-Connecticut

Time for Teachers: Leveraging Expanded Time to Strengthen Instruction and Empower Teachers

Education and Literacy

Time for Teachers: Leveraging Expanded Time to Strengthen Instruction and Empower Teachers

This report looks deeply inside 17 schools that stand at the vanguard of the current revolution in teaching. It reveals the substantive ways in which these schools are providing their teachers with more time to reflect on, develop, and hone their craft, by very explicitly leveraging an expanded-time school schedule and calendar. These schools' expanded time (on average, they are in session almost 300 hours more per year than the national norm of 1,170 hours) affords not only more hours and days focused on classroom instruction, but also a full array of professional learning opportunities.

May 2014

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Midwestern)-Illinois-Cook County-Chicago, North America-United States (Midwestern)-Ohio-Cuyahoga County-Cleveland, North America-United States (Northeastern)-Connecticut-New Haven County-New Haven, North America-United States (Northeastern)-Massachusetts, North America-United States (Northeastern)-New Jersey-Union County-Elizabeth, North America-United States (Northeastern)-New York-Kings County-New York City (Brooklyn), North America-United States (Northeastern)-Pennsylvania-Philadelphia County-Philadelphia, North America-United States (Southern)-Louisiana-Orleans Parish-New Orleans, North America-United States (Southern)-Tennessee-Shelby County-Memphis, North America-United States (Southwestern)-Arizona-Maricopa County-Phoenix, North America-United States (Southwestern)-Texas-Harris County-Houston, North America-United States (Western)-California-San Diego County, North America-United States (Western)-Colorado-Denver County-Denver

An Appeal to All Americans: National Commission on Civic Investment in Public Education

Education and Literacy

An Appeal to All Americans: National Commission on Civic Investment in Public Education

A national commission comprised of top education and philanthropic leaders is calling with new urgency for an increase in the nation's commitment to and civic investment in public education. An Appeal to All Americans also represents the first national and independently authored report to outline standards of practice for public and local education funds.

As federal and state governments make dramatic cuts to public education funding, the independent National Commission on Civic Investment in Public Education urges the public to redouble its efforts to ensure that the nation's public schools provide a high-quality education for all young people.

The Commission, created by Public Education Network (PEN), was charged with making a renewed case for civic investment, highlighting the work of organizations that can build and channel that investment, and developing standards for the rapidly-rising number of citizendriven, local public education assistance organizations - local education funds (LEFs), school foundations, etc. - working throughout our nation to improve public schools.

May 2011

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Midwestern)-Illinois-Macon County-Decatur, North America-United States (Northeastern)-Connecticut-Fairfield County-Bridgeport, North America-United States (Southern)-Alabama-Mobile County, North America-United States (Southern)-Florida-Hillsborough County, North America-United States (Southern)-Maryland-Carroll County-Westminster, North America-United States (Western)-Washington-King County-Seattle

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