State-to-District Assistance in Underperforming Districts

When school districts fail to educate students, state departments of education are faced with the challenge of taking responsibility. Yet many state educational agencies have limited capacity to address the many complex issues involved in state-to-district assistance. The Community Training and Assistance Center (CTAC) has the expertise and leadership experience to help states create and implement effective strategies for change that lead to positive outcomes.

CTAC has provided technical assistance to numerous state-to-district interventions—from California to Ohio to New Jersey—all of which increased student achievement. We have been successful by helping state educational agencies (SEAs) understand and effectively use three key levers for change:

Educational levers

CTAC assists state educational interventions by helping clarify the purpose of the intervention, calling attention to critical steps in diagnosis, changing the focus from “adopting models” to “changing systems,” and focusing on standards and assessment data that provide a foundation for change. CTAC strengthens SEAs and evaluates progress in student achievement, organizational change, and community capacity.

Organizational levers

The complexity of state-to-district intervention creates strains on and reveals gaps in the service delivery capabilities of state education departments. CTAC helps state agencies overcome these challenges and more effectively mobilize their resources to build the foundation for educational improvements. We help SEAs:

  • Overcome organizational “silos” to enable a concerted, focused effort that positively impacts the district
  • Balance ambitious objectives with organizational realities
  • Develop mechanisms for making informed mid-course corrections

Political levers

The political dimensions of a state-to-district intervention are often the most publicly visible, as people make judgments about the underperforming district and state education overall. CTAC helps state agencies address these challenges by supporting and strengthening functions that are critical to successful intervention. We help SEAs:

  • Tap the power of convening as a core part of intervention
  • Build constituent support and buy-in
  • Create communications strategies that are vigilant and multi-tiered
  • Establish exit strategies with clearly defined objectives and milestones

See examples of our experience