The Emerging Role of the Nebraska Department of Education in Leading for Equity in School Improvement
Vargas, Shirley Bárbara
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CitationVargas, Shirley Bárbara. 2019. The Emerging Role of the Nebraska Department of Education in Leading for Equity in School Improvement. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractWith the recent authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) positions State Education Agencies (SEA) to reconsider their traditional role of conduits of federal and state funding to schools and districts to designers of equitable accountability and school improvement systems. While various states are on different levels of this transformation, the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) has taken critical steps to shape the narrative of their changing role. Within the last five years, the NDE has created a new accountability system that classifies schools as Excellent, Great, Good, and Needs Improvement, based on multiple indicators, and set rigorous college and career ready standards. Since 2015, the NDE has also identified and supported three Priority Schools: a state-designation that provides state-directed interventions in schools with the greatest need. As the NDE prepares to identify schools for Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI), per ESSA these are the lowest-performing five percent of Title I schools and high schools with graduation rates lower than 67%, there is a need to identify, coordinate, and deliver the supports necessary to positively impact student learning and outcomes.
This capstone describes my strategic project, which focused on co-designing a professional learning series for Priority Schools and co-creating a system of supports for Needs Improvement, Comprehensive Support and Improvement, and Priority Schools. I draw on bodies of literature focused on the SEAs’ role in school improvement, equity in school systems, and the importance of systems thinking in building coherence across an organization to answer these questions:
• What systems/structures/culture need to be in place to effectively support student growth and academic achievement?
• What are the conditions necessary to ensure school improvement is grounded in equity?
• What are the key elements SEAs need to possess to ensure connectedness and alignment of school improvement work?
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42063278