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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 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...
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...

Op-Eds

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...
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....

Blog Posts

November 6, 2020
Alex Spurrier
In our federated system of K-12 education governance, state legislatures and governors play a huge role in shaping the educational...
November 6, 2020
Brandon Lewis
On Election Day, Bellwether shared a roundup of key races and issues we are closely watching due their potential impact on education,....
November 3, 2020
Tanya Paperny
That there’s a lot at stake in this election is obvious. And there is a lot at stake for schools even as they’ve been mostly an...