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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:


September 21, 2016
Jason Weeby, Kelly Robson, George Mu
Innovation is critical to advancing any sector. It increases the productivity of organizations, tests the merit of new ideas, and phases out...
July 17, 2016
U.S. News & World Report -- Districts plan everything from providing meals and transportation to organizing sports, so instruction suffers.
July 28, 2015
Sara Mead, Chad Aldeman, Carolyn Chuong, and Julie Obbard
After years of cuts to the teaching workforce, California districts are beginning to hire again. This positive change is offset, however, by the fact...
August 22, 2014
Chad Aldeman , Carolyn Chuong
Over the last four years, states implemented remarkable changes to their teacher evaluation systems. Rather than rating all educators as either “...
June 24, 2014
Carolyn Chuong, Sara Mead
A new generation of education technology is gaining traction in America’s schools. Yet the most highly touted uses of education technology barely...

Blog Posts

December 20, 2016
Kaitlin Pennington
Teacher evaluation was one of President Obama’s signature policies, and a controversial element of education reform during his tenure. With...
December 13, 2016
Bonnie O'Keefe
When DC Mayor Muriel Bowser recently announced she was nominating Oakland, CA Superintendent Antwan Wilson to succeed Kaya Henderson as DC...
July 7, 2016
Sara Mead
My colleague Andrew Rotherham has a great piece up at U.S. News & World Report arguing that our current educational system ask school...