Our policy papers codify the learning from our community of practice and offer recommendations
to Chiefs as they shape the future of education in their states and districts.
April 4, 2017


Connecting the Dots

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides states new freedoms to leverage federal programs toward a wide range of possibilities. But what does it look like to use that freedom in the most strategic and effective ways? State Chiefs are developing bold strategies to take advantage of the additional flexibility to use federal funding in more innovative and evidence-based ways. Leveraging this flexibility can be a powerful tool for leaders to meaningfully influence the work of schools and outcomes for students. Nationally, over $16 billion is currently spent each year on the two largest federal Title programs in ESSA – Title I and Title II – and ESSA provides new opportunities for states to invest these funds in smarter, forward-thinking ways.
February 9, 2017


State Leadership on Direct Student Services

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) includes a provision championed by Chiefs for Change that will address the access gaps that exist in far too many of our highest need schools and provide students and families with meaningful instructional choices to support their learning. The provision – Direct Student Services (DSS) – allows states to set aside 3% of Title I funding and award this to districts with a high number of schools identified for improvement that are committed to offering more meaningful learning opportunities, activities, courses, and services not otherwise available to students.
February 7, 2017


Using ESSA to Advance Equity & Excellence

When Congress passed ESSA in 2015, it created a requirement that states report per-pupil spending levels at both the district and individual school levels, disaggregating federal, state, and local funds, as well as personnel and non-personnel expenditures. In the coming months of 2017, states have an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and a commitment to equity and excellence by not just complying with the requirement, but by designing and implementing a methodology that will allow districts to use data to make strategic and smart decisions for the equitable distribution of resources.
October 16, 2016


Indicators of School Quality and Student Success

Before considering new indicators, states will want to critically examine the quality and validity of all the existing indicators in their systems, particularly with regard to any performance targets in their annual growth indicators and so as to ensure that these are consistent with their ESSA-required state-wide interim and longterm academic achievement targets. Nevertheless, ESSA clearly also requires at least one indicator of school quality as part of a state’s accountability system, thus providing an important opportunity to focus on new indicators that could contribute to continuous improvement in educational outcomes.
September 12, 2016


Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High-Quality Teachers, Principals, and Other School Leaders

The Title II program under ESSA continues to focus on raising student achievement by improving the quality of teachers, principals, and other school leaders, and affords significant flexibility for states and districts to carry out a wide variety of activities, consistent with their specific needs. These opportunities are significant, as in 2016 $2.34 billion was appropriated for Title II. This brief provides specific pathways for states and districts to develop and implement programming in a strategic and collaborative manner in order to better prepare, develop, recruit, retain, and ensure equitable access to our strongest educators.
July 7, 2016


Why It Matters

ESSA incentivizes states to use evidence-based programs and interventions in districts and schools. Doing so will lead to stronger student outcomes at reasonable cost; not doing so throws dollars after uncertain or even negative outcomes for students and schools. The purpose of this policy brief is to suggest how state Chiefs might navigate ESSA’s evidence-based provisions effectively. We clarify what ESSA requires in terms of the use of evidence-based policies, what each standard of evidence means, and how state Chiefs might create a climate in which research-based policies become the default choice for district interventions.
May 25, 2016


Rethinking School Improvement Strategies and Funding Under the Every Student Succeeds Act

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires state education agencies (SEAs) to set aside 7% of their Title I funding in order to turn around struggling schools identified by states under their accountability systems. Nationwide, this translates to over $1 billion annually. Under ESSA, states have far greater flexibility to approach school improvement in fundamentally stronger ways, shifting decision-making from the federal government to SEAs and local education agencies (LEAs). This paper provides guidance for SEAs committed to advancing this newfound local flexibility and innovation, while also incentivizing LEAs to identify and implement evidence-based school improvement strategies and holding them accountable for results.
April 19, 2016


Leveraging the Every Student Succeeds Act to Provide Direct Student Services

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) includes a new innovative provision championed by Chiefs for Change enabling families of students who attend struggling schools to obtain Direct Student Services (DSS). These services encompass a wide range of individualized academic opportunities and build upon efforts several states have taken in recent years to expand parental choice options as a way to improve student academic achievement. Direct Student Services may be supported through a 3% discretionary state reservation of Title I funding. While nearly all funds designated for DSS must be awarded to districts, states have the opportunity to play a large role in creating a broader vision for how these resources can help leverage efforts of districts to increase school success and improve student outcomes – bringing value to teachers, families, students, and taxpayers.
April 8, 2016


Chiefs for Change Calls on All States to Design School Improvement and Education Accountability Systems That Reflect High Standards for All Students

The recent enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides new opportunities for states to help shape future school systems. The next several months will be a critical time during which many states will begin the process of examining current accountability frameworks and making initial decisions in moving forward under ESSA. As these decisions are being made, Chiefs for Change recommends the following set of broad principles to ensure ESSA is a step forward, not a step back toward ensuring all students in this nation are provided the education they deserve.
March 22, 2016


Why It Matters + Recommendations for System-Level Leaders

Despite our nation’s great diversity, the vast majority of system-level leaders in our school districts and state agencies remain white. This is especially troubling as research consistently illustrates the significant benefits of having a diverse teacher and leader workforce, and in particular individuals who share a similar race or ethnicity with the students and communities they serve. For example, increasing the diversity of the educator workforce at every level can build citizenship, provide role models and welcoming environments for students of color, encourage individuals to challenge the status quo, increase academic achievement, and shift teacher mindset and expectations.

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