New Research Shows Weaknesses in State School Improvement Networks
December 4, 2020
A new study from the Center for Public Research and Leadership at Columbia University found that state school improvement networks frequently struggle to “scale up” successful policies or programs from the school to district or state levels. As outlined by ESSA, networks of schools established by state accountability plans have the ability to define their own metrics of evaluation and success, which has resulted in researchers and policymakers being unable to compare results across districts. While the authors of the study commend school improvement networks for localizing problem solving processes, they recommend that school leaders further emphasize equity in their plans, prioritize collaboration with other districts, and develop and communicate clear protocols for evaluating the success of school interventions. Separate research fielded by the Regional Education Laboratory of the MId-Atlantic found that when schools from different improvement networks failed to coordinate their sampling and reporting practices, interventions were more likely to overlook the lowest performing students, further underlining the need for improved collaboration between districts.