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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

May 11, 2020
Indira Dammu, Max Marchitello, Hailly T.N. Korman
This document will be updated regularly with new resources and materials. With schools closed due to COVID-19, online learning and instruction are...
April 7, 2020
Tresha Ward, Stephanie Spangler, Katie Rouse, Eleisha Nelson-Reed
The past few weeks have been uniquely challenging for education and nonprofit leaders across the country as they navigate the unfolding coronavirus...
February 19, 2020
Kelly Robson, Jennifer O’Neal Schiess, Phillip Burgoyne-Allen
Autonomous school policies are becoming increasingly prevalent in school districts and states, and currently exist in 24 states nationwide. These...
December 4, 2019
Kelly Robson, Phillip Burgoyne-Allen, Juliet Squire, Jeff Schulz
Fourteen percent of the nation’s population lives in rural communities, and one in five K-12 students attends a rural school — a substantial...
October 22, 2019
Bonnie O’Keefe, Brandon Lewis, Jennifer O’Neal Schiess, Jason Weeby
In the past decade, school performance frameworks (SPFs) have become an increasingly popular way for school districts to measure and communicate...

Op-Eds

May 9, 2019
A deep and persistent minority achievement gap is one of the most urgent problems facing Boston Public Schools, as the city welcomes a school...
March 18, 2019
Gwinnett County, the second most populous county in the state of Georgia, recently made history when it elected its youngest and first school board...
April 20, 2017
Put politics aside to learn from the successful changes Michelle Rhee brought to Washington, D.C. schools.

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...