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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

August 11, 2020
When EightCities.org first launched in 2018, it documented the stories of leaders in school systems across the country working to drive rapid...
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...
July 14, 2020
Justin Trinidad, Hailly T.N. Korman
School choice was intended to expand options and equity, and it holds promise for many students with unique needs. But it is clear that no choice...
June 16, 2020
Lina Bankert, Jeff Schulz, Rochelle Dalton, Alison Fuller, Liz McNamee
Postsecondary education dramatically increases the likelihood of employment and economic success. But many young people, especially those furthest...
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...

Op-Eds

August 11, 2020
If New York does receive a waiver, its schools will lose another year of data that represents the only available measure of performance for every...
August 11, 2020
Information about how schools support students is more critical now than ever as we navigate a pandemic that has already upended two school years....
July 28, 2020
What a 2005 earthquake in Pakistan can teach American educators about learning loss after a disaster. Distance learning efforts have gone poorly and...

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...