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School Districts

By Elizabeth Cryan Photography with permission from Donnell-Kay Foundation at Rocky Mountain Prep school

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The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) sought to return responsibility for educational decision-making to the local level and give school districts greater flexibility in many areas, including how they respond to chronically low-performing schools, how they evaluate their teachers, and even how they spend federal dollars. Districts can use this flexibility to innovate and improve student learning, but there is also the risk they will maintain a status quo that underserves some student populations.

Bellwether has a deep understanding of the challenges that districts and their students face and extensive experience with supporting work at the district level. Our Policy and Evaluation team conducts research and analysis on many of the key challenges and opportunities facing school districts, including teacher evaluation, changing student demographics, personalized learning, education finance, pensions, and portfolio approaches that increase quality school options available to students and families. Bellwether’s Strategic Advising teams has significant experience in supporting mid-size to large high-need urban districts as they develop strategies in response to new demands and opportunities, structure their organizations to implement those strategies effectively, and deliver quality services and oversight to students and schools. We support comprehensive strategic planning efforts, financial analysis, initiative design and implementation, regulation development, and grant writing.

The content below reflects our work on this issue:

Publications

August 6, 2020
Max Marchitello, Hailly T.N. Korman
The coronavirus pandemic will have a profound, lasting impact on students, particularly those who are already marginalized. This includes students in...
August 5, 2020
Bill Durbin, Sherri Geng, Jeff Schulz
With school opening just weeks away in many parts of the country, leaders need a detailed level of support — and a plan — to start the school year in...
June 30, 2020
Alex Spurrier, Chad Aldeman, Jennifer O'Neal Schiess, Andrew J. Rotherham
For nearly two decades, state and federal policymakers have built standards-based accountability systems as a way to improve educational outcomes and...
June 12, 2020
Hailly T.N. Korman, Michael Johnson, Max Marchitello
The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black people, often by law enforcement, have added momentum...
May 14, 2020
Tresha Francis Ward, Stephanie Spangler
In April, we released a four-phase strategic planning tool to support the COVID-19 education response, providing a framework for leaders responding...

Op-Eds

March 30, 2020
Schools should stay open over the summer this year, for the good of students, teachers & schools themselves. If there ever was a year to hit...
December 17, 2019
Pesidential candidate Sen. Michael Bennet’s leadership as superintendent of Denver Public Schools from 2005 to 2009 was a major turning point in the...
November 19, 2019
All families deserve to choose the best educational path for their children, but right now in Louisville, that right is reserved only for the wealthy...

Blog Posts

February 27, 2020
Phillip Burgoyne-Allen
We have written multiple posts in recent months about the spread of “autonomous district schools,” which occupy the middle ground between...
February 25, 2020
Mary K. Wells
My colleagues and I have been working with districts in several states to design and launch autonomous district schools, and over the past...
January 22, 2020
Alex Spurrier
Leading a large school district is a complex endeavor. Your days are spent managing thousands of employees charged with educating tens or...