×

Fill out the brief form below for access to the free report.

  • George W. Bush Institute

    Content & Resources

  • Through our three Impact Centers -- Domestic Excellence, Global Leadership, and our Engagement Agenda -- we focus on developing leaders, advancing policy, and taking action to solve today’s most pressing challenges.

I'm interested in dates between:
--

Taking Action

Advancing Policy

Developing Leaders

Issues

I have minutes to read today:

Programs & Issues

Taking Action

Advancing Policy

Developing Leaders

Issues

Publication Type
Date Range
I'm interested in dates between:
--
Reading Time

I have minutes to read today:

Policy Recommendations: Developing the Next Generation

November 26, 2018 by Anne Wicks
Aligning time, people, and money will allow states to better serve their students

What's Next: Our recommendations

  • State education officials should focus on their continuous improvement process when implementing their Every Student Succeeds plan
  • State policymakers should use commonly held definitions of quality for educators
  • Governors and policymakers should concentrate on aligning student outcomes and funding from pre-K to college
Download PDF

More recommendations:
Domestic Excellence: · Immigration · Trade · Central America · Veterans · Education
Global Leadership: · North Korea · Democracy · Global Health · Burma · Women's Leadership

As new state leadership settles in around the country, three facts should capture their attention. First, on average, about 40 percent of each state’s budget is spent on education from prekindergarten through college. Second, the U.S. Department of Education has largely stepped back as states begin implementing their respective Every Student Succeeds (ESSA) Act plans, giving states remarkable latitude for the first time in nearly 20 years. Third, the most recent National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) scores largely flatlined, and far too many American students are not on track for future success. In this globally competitive world where policymakers are tasked with innovating to keep their state’s economy growing and employment rates high, it is more important than ever to connect the real work of education to the long-term economic health of states.

While it was difficult to find substantive mention of education in the recent midterm and governors races, this is now a significant opportunity for states to distinguish themselves and their education systems. The work of improving education is complex, but a thoughtful focus by policymakers on the following three recommendations can guide prioritization of limited resources —time, people, and money —to better serve a state’s young citizens.

STATE EDUCATION OFFICIALS SHOULD FOCUS ON THEIR CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT PROCESS WHEN IMPLEMENTING THEIR ESSA PLAN

Each state was required to articulate an approach to continuous improvement— a formal process of planning, acting, assessing, reflecting, and adjusting— to help manage the implementation of the large-scale and intricate changes outlined in ESSA plans. Unfortunately, in many of those plans, details about continuous improvement were left wanting. State leaders should ask who is responsible for continuous improvement, what are the interim measures of success, who owns the process, and how are stakeholders engaged throughout.

Implementation is difficult and will not be perfect. Policymakers should expect the work to be iterative. But without a transparent continuous improvement process, lessons learned along the way will be lost, false claims of victory will be made and student success will suffer. New Mexico is an example of a state taking this on directly.

STATE POLICYMAKERS SHOULD USE COMMONLY HELD DEFINITIONS OF QUALITY FOR EDUCATORS

Policy sets the conditions for success, but people improve schools and outcomes for students through action and decision-making. States should have commonly held definitions of high-quality teachers and principals based on state or national standards, which are built upon what is known from research and practice.

The commonly held definitions of quality need to be reflected in job descriptions, preparation program graduation requirements, and evaluation systems. State leaders who invest in and champion the meaningful preparation, support, and evaluation of educators help foster the professional growth of teachers and principals. Those educators, in turn, are better able to support the success of their students.

Districts are leading in this area; it is worth investigating, adapting, and scaling the human capital work started in the Dallas Independent School District, Gwinnett County Schools, and the states and districts highlighted in a recent report by the National Council on Teacher Quality.

GOVERNORS AND POLICYMAKERS SHOULD CONCENTRATE ON ALIGNING STUDENT OUTCOMES AND FUNDING FROM PRE-K TO COLLEGE

While states spend considerable funds on education, the flexibility of those funds can be limited given how they are originally allocated or designated. These constraints increase the importance of ensuring that funding aligns with student outcome goals where possible. In other words, the state education budget is a numerical reflection of a state’s education values and priorities.

Similarly, a state’s ESSA accountability index should be a catalog of the indicators deemed most critical to measure student success. A few questions to consider:

The state education agency is not solely responsible to align goals, funding, and programs. Alignment will result from this alchemy: a clear vision from a governor and state chief, a state agency focused on district support first and regulatory compliance second, feedback from stakeholders, and an ecosystem of districts, nonprofit agencies, higher education institutions, and businesses that prioritize partnerships and data.


Washington has given states a new opportunity to lead in creating and maintaining quality education systems. This process will require aligning time, money, and people, a challenging task under any circumstance. But a concentration on this alignment will increase the chances that a state’s students become proficient learners with a life of their own opportunity, purpose, and mobility. The success of young people, after all, is the only outcome that counts for any education policy.


Author

Anne Wicks
Anne Wicks

Anne Wicks serves as the Director of Education Reform at the Bush Institute.  In this role, she develops and oversees the policy, research, and engagement work of the Education Reform team. 

Before joining the Bush Institute, Wicks served for five years as Associate Dean for External Relations at the University of Southern California's Rossier School of Education.  In addition to leading a team with revenue, communications, and engagement goals, she supported Dean Karen Symms Gallagher on a variety of special projects including the launch and early growth of Ednovate Charter Schools.  She currently serves as the chair of PMC Support, a supporting organization for Ednovate Schools.  Over her career, she has held management and resource development roles at organizations including Teach for America, the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, and Stanford University. Anne holds a B.A in American Studies and a M.A. in Education from Stanford University (during which she taught 8th grade social studies), as well as a M.B.A. from the University of Southern California. A former captain of Stanford's women's volleyball team, Anne was part of three national championship teams, two as a player and one as an assistant coach. 

Full Bio