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State Education Policy

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

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Despite heated debates at the local and federal level about education reform, states actually play the lead role in our nation’s public education system. The responsibility for providing public education services is established at the state level in individual state constitutions, and state revenues fund the lion’s share of the cost of operating most public schools. As a result, state policy drives much of the structure and function of the public school system — with direct influence over human capital management, school and system performance and accountability, financing, and governance.

Bellwether’s work identifies both the opportunities and barriers that state policies create for innovative and promising practices across the education sector. We also analyze the intersection of state policy with federal priorities and local contexts. Our grant-funded work has addressed a range of state policy issues, including charter school policies; the impact of state policy on teacher certification, retention, compensation, and benefits; the structure and function of state school financing systems; and more. We also advise state policymakers seeking to develop and implement innovative policy solutions as well as foundations and advocacy organizations seeking to identify or influence state policies to foster improved outcomes for students.

The content below reflects our work on this issue:

Publications

September 15, 2020
Lynne Graziano, Chad Aldeman
As more schools prepare students for a high school diploma and college and career readiness, how are states tracking the effectiveness of these...
September 8, 2020
Ashley LiBetti, Jennifer O'Neal Schiess, National Association of Charter School Authorizers
Great charter school authorizers believe in the charter school promise and relentlessly pursue excellence to give every child an educational option...
September 2, 2020
Ashley LiBetti, Juliet Squire, Justin Trinidad, Amy Chen Kulesa, Rebecca Gifford Goldberg
One of the greatest promises of the charter school movement has been the potential to create diverse school models to meet the varied needs of...
August 27, 2020
Kelly Robson, Juliet Squire, Indira Dammu
Over the last 25 years, the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) has invested nearly $5.3 billion into the charter school sector, directing funds...
August 25, 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...

Op-Eds

August 26, 2020
Students lose learning even during brief school closures for snow days. The harm from COVID will be multiplied many times over. During particularly...
August 21, 2020
Now is not the time to roll back testing in Georgia. Milestones is the only data that provide transparency into how every public school is doing.
August 20, 2020
South Carolinians, like the rest of Americans, are under a lot of stress and anxiety. For schools, it could get worse. State Superintendent Molly...

Blog Posts

September 15, 2020
Chad Aldeman
In a new paper, Lynne Graziano and I look at what data states are collecting around college and career pathways. On one hand, there’s a...
September 9, 2020
Ashley LiBetti
Last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told states not to expect a waiver on state assessments this year. Some in education...
August 27, 2020
Alex Spurrier
This fall is turning into a slow-motion disaster for students and families. Many districts planned to implement some form of hybrid...