Public Education Positions

NASBE is a policy-driven association. State boards of education are responsible for creating and implementing policy at the state level. According to NASBE Bylaws, there are two means by which the association takes positions on education-related issues of concern at the state and national levels. The first is by a vote of the Board of Directors. The second, outlined here, is by a vote of the Delegate Assembly at NASBE’s Annual Conference. These become NASBE’s Public Education Positions.

NASBE’s Public Education Positions Committee (PEP) takes recommendations for enduring positions from the Board, other committees and study groups, NASBE members (as states or individuals), and NASBE staff. The PEP committee considers these positions and – if it agrees the positions should move forward – edits and adapts them to fit within the full NASBE positions document. The PEP committee then forwards its recommendations to the Delegate Assembly for final action. States can also initiate policy discussions. The Bylaws also makes provisions for states to bring positions that have been rejected by the PEP committee to the floor during the Annual Business Meeting for consideration by the Delegate Assembly.

***An updated set of public education positions was adopted by the Delegate Assembly at NASBE’s Annual Conference in November 2017. The updated set can be accessed here.***

The public education positions listed below are not up-to-date. This web page will be updated soon to reflect the public education positions adopted in November 2017.


State Governance of Education

Citizen control over public education through the mechanism of governing boards is an enduring American tradition that is essential in making public education successful and that gives our decentralized educational system much of its vitality, diversity, and responsiveness. State board members—as citizen advocates of public education, as liaisons between educators and others involved in education policy, as consensus builders, and as policymakers—strengthen this tradition.

The ever-changing composition of state boards allows opinions of the public to be considered. Removing or weakening state boards in favor of control from governors or legislative committees is detrimental in a society committed to democratic principles and the need for strong involvement of citizens in education decision making. Sustaining the unique role of state boards of education is the best way to meet public concerns regarding education.

While respecting differences in states’ educational governance structures, NASBE supports these governance principles:

A. State Responsibility for Education

B. State Board Responsibility

C. State Board Structure

D. State Board Cooperation with Other Organizations and Agencies

E. Diversity in Educational Leadership

F. Student Involvement in Education Decisionmaking

G. Professional Development for State Board Members

H. Policy Review Cycles

A. State Responsibility for Education

The United States Constitution reserves to citizens of the states primary responsibility for the governance of education (Tenth Amendment). To carry out their responsibility, states have developed structures to plan, provide, and oversee the delivery of instructional services to children through state boards charged with the “general supervision” of public schools.

Throughout the history of this country, the Congress has continued to recognize the preeminent role of the states in education even while targeting federal education funds for national priorities. NASBE believes that public education is the most fundamental obligation of state government and that decisions about educational governance structures should be left to individual states.

B. State Board Responsibility

Major policy and oversight responsibility is placed in constitutionally or statutorily created state boards, composed primarily of lay citizens. State boards have the primary responsibility for governing education, including vocational education, for setting educational policy, goals and priorities based on the best available information and research, and for continuously evaluating educational progress. (1997) NASBE adheres to the following general principles regarding state boards:

  1. Every effort should be made to ensure that the full diversity of the population is represented on citizen boards.
  2. While citizens who serve on state boards of education may be chosen because they are from a specific region, or constituency, they should then represent all the students in the state.
  3. The charge to state boards is setting the long-term vision and direction that will make education meaningful for all students.
  4. While the state role of state board members is often clearly defined by state constitutions or statutes, all state board members, regardless of how chosen, need to understand and respond to national issues that have an impact on education in their states.

 C. State Board Structure

The educationally effective governing structure for education within a state includes a state board of education that determines general policy, with the policies administered by a chief state school officer who is hired and evaluated by the board. (1996)

D. State Board Cooperation with Other Organizations and Agencies

  1. State board members should lead education efforts and include governors, legislators, chief state school officers, local school boards, parents, business leaders, and other members of the education community in developing and providing coherent, coordinated, thorough and efficient educational programs for all children. (1997) In order to assist state boards in this mission, NASBE should maintain ongoing communication and cooperation with the representative organizations of these groups.
  2. In order to achieve systemic education reform and fulfill individual students’ needs at every level, state boards of education and postsecondary boards, which may include state boards of higher education, community college boards and others, should develop mutually supportive structures to ensure effective articulation of academic standards and assessments, enrollment eligibility requirements, preparation and development of education professionals, and other policies that have implications for the state’s entire education system. (1997)
  3. State boards should actively work with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to ensure that state-approved innovations and variations in education curricula, instructional methods, programs, and grading practices are accommodated in the determination of eligibility requirements for participation in postsecondary athletic activities and athletic scholarships. (1997)
  4. State boards and chief state school officers have common concerns that are addressed by the organizations that represent them. Therefore, state boards are encouraged to schedule NASBE and chief state school officer issues for regular consideration at state board meetings.
  5. The mutual concerns of state boards of education and local school boards necessitates ongoing, substantive communication and cooperation among the state board of education, local school boards, the state school boards’ association, and the state department of education. As part of this effort, state boards should provide for local board member involvement on task forces, advisory councils, and other established bodies. At the national level, NASBE pledges itself to continuing communication and cooperation with the National School Boards Association (NSBA) around mutual concerns of education policy and improvement. (1999)

E. Diversity in Educational Leadership

State boards should take an active role in assuring broad cultural, ethnic, and gender representation in the state department of education, and on all state task forces, commissions, advisory boards, adoption committees, and working groups.

F. Student Involvement in Education Decisionmaking

Student involvement in education decision-making provides students with an increased understanding of the roles and responsibilities of policymakers and administrators, gives students an increased stake in their own education, and provides adults with a fresh perspective on the education system. Therefore, state boards of education should provide opportunities for meaningful student involvement in state education policymaking and should encourage school districts and school councils to provide similar opportunities for students at the local level. (1996, 1998)

G. Professional Development for State Board Members

State boards should devote attention and resources to the professional development of their members. This should include initial orientation and ongoing development to better understand their roles and responsibilities, to improve boardsmanship skills, and to gain greater understanding of specific education issues. (1996)

H. Policy Review Cycles

State boards of education should make provisions to regularly review major policies. In addition, an evaluation process should be built into all decisions. (1996)

State Governance of Education

School Improvement

The purpose of public schools is to educate all students to high standards, prepare them for productive careers, and encourage them to be life-long learners (1997). NASBE asserts that school improvement is, fundamentally:

  1. A moral imperative in that a high-quality education is a civil right;
  2. A civic imperative in that a highly educated citizenry understands public issues as they become more complex.
  3. An economic imperative in maintaining the United States’ position in the world economy. (2005)

In order to achieve this goal, NASBE supports the following principles and school improvement efforts:

State Education Standards

Balanced Systems of Assessment and Accountability

Accountability Systems

Common Standards

School Structure

Alignment of the P-16 Education System

Core Curriculum

Reading Curriculum and Instruction

Mathematics Curriculum and Instruction

Library-Media Services

Career-Technical Education (CTE)

Class Size Reduction

Middle Schools

High Schools

School Improvement

Instructional Materials in Print, Electronic, and Other Media

Choice among Public Schools

Charter Schools

State Longitudinal Data Systems

Principles for Instructional Materials in a Digital Age

Developing Education and Military Partnerships to Meet the Needs of Students

Closing the Achievement Gap

Summer Learning

Deeper Learning

A. State Education Standards

  1. States should create academic standards in all key subject areas at all levels, Pre-K 12, including standards for both content and student performance. Key subject areas should include language arts, mathematics, science, technology, citizenship, fine arts, health, and foreign languages/cultures. State standards should be measurable, broadly consistent with national standards, and regularly reviewed and improved. (1997)
  2. Performance standards for all elements of the education system should be developed to assure that each student has the opportunity to receive instruction in a positive environment from well-prepared teachers, working with quality materials and technology. (1997)
  3. States should provide technical assistance and support to schools and districts to assist them in implementing the state standards. (1997)
  4. States should take measures to ensure that students who do not meet rigorous academic standards are provided with effective alternate delivery systems. (1999)

 B. Balanced Systems of Assessment and Accountability

  1. State assessment systems should be based on a definition of learning in terms of clear, succinct, and high standards that identify what students need to know and do to be college and career ready. Therefore, all states should:
    1. Have assessment systems that are designed to improve student learning. Recognizing that no single test serves all purposes, states need to create a comprehensive, balanced assessment system that includes both assessment of learning (reporting on what’s been learned) as well as assessments for learning (providing ongoing feedback to teachers and students as learning progresses). The assessments—summative, formative, interim—should function as a coherent system that uses a variety of approaches to integrate assessment as part of the fabric of classroom teaching.
    2. Frequently evaluate assessments to ensure validity, reliability, and fairness, and to determine their impact on teaching and student learning.
    3. Shift more attention to classroom-based assessments that permit a finer-grain analysis of student understanding through the use of a variety of performance-based tasks (e.g., openended responses, portfolios, technology-based items).
    4. Ensure that teachers have the tools and training they need to strengthen the connection between assessment and instruction based on our knowledge of how students learn and how such learning can be measured.
    5. Provide assessment results with user-friendly, transparent information that clearly describes differences in learning in a subject area in order to communicate effectively about student performance. Results should be communicated to a range of users, including teachers, students, and parents, in ways that position teachers and students as central actors in using results to guide teaching and individual instruction and to engage students in their own learning.
    6. Develop appropriate assessments and accommodations for special education students and
      1. English language learners through extensive research and testing to ensure they are of high technical quality (e.g., valid, reliable, and aligned to standards). They should provide for a range of options (e.g., emphasis on universal design, the development of high-quality accommodation policies, and provision of alternate assessments) that adhere to professional testing standards and support high achievement levels.
      2. Take advantage of the enormous possibilities offered through technology and its applications to integrate assessment and classroom teaching toward specific learning goals.
      3. Technology can contribute to powerful learning environments by embedding well-designed formative assessment strategies using highly engaging and innovative approaches consistent with how students learn.
  2. State accountability should 1) focus on how the system (including school, district, and state levels) performs in a number of key areas and 2) make use of multiple indicators, of which summative assessment is only one. States should collect qualitative and quantitative measures, including student growth over time across the entire achievement continuum, as well as other indicators of school progress. The accountability index or composite should include long-term data that measure whether or not students have been effectively prepared for college or the workplace, including graduation data, college or workplace entry, and college completion.
  3. To ensure that assessment systems achieve their purposes, states must establish standards for teacher and leader competencies regarding their knowledge and skills of how students learn, how learning can be assessed, and how these two must be closely integrated to guide classroom assessment and instruction. In addition:
    1. States must establish consistent teacher development standards that position assessment literacy as a major component for teacher licensure, accreditation for preparation programs, and teacher evaluations. States must also ensure that the national faculty responsible for training teachers and leaders throughout the United States has the requisite training in the fundamentals of effective classroom assessment.
    2. States must ensure that at all levels of the system—classroom, school, and district—educators are provided with ongoing, high-quality professional development, along with the guidance, tools, infrastructure, and technology, to improve educators’ assessment literacy and their use of multiple assessments to measure students’ progress and respond to individual learning needs. (2010)
  4. State boards should consider the significant potential of growth and value-added assessments models—when used in conjunction with other measures and supports—as tools to improve teaching and learning, evaluate programs and provide for effective equitable resource allocations. However, states should be aware that value-added assessment is not designed for high-stakes use in teacher evaluations, and that value-added assessment models need continued pilot testing, research, evaluation, and validation. (2006)

C. Accountability Systems

States should develop comprehensive accountability systems that foster continuous improvement of educational practices, with the ultimate goal of improving student learning. The key elements of accountability systems provide that:

  1. Student achievement and performance are at the core of clear goals for the accountability system.
  2. Schools are held accountable for the performance of all students.
  3. The accountability system has broad political, business and community support so that it can be sustained over time, yet also be adaptable to necessary change.
  4. The accountability system has clear incentives and motivates students and educators to achieve high standards of performance.
  5. Accountability is based on multiple measures producing accurate, meaningful, and valid results.
  6. The results of accountability measures should be used as the basis for a full range of interventions that include capacity building in addition to specific sanctions and rewards.
  7. Education policies and the accountability system should send consistent messages about the state’s educational goals. (1998)

D. Common Standards

NASBE supports the work of states and territories in their efforts to develop high-quality, voluntary common standards for students across multiple states. NASBE holds to the following additional points regarding these efforts:

  1. The resulting standards must be rigorous, aligned with college- and career-readiness expectations, and internationally benchmarked.
  2. Participation in common standards efforts must be voluntary on the part of states, with state boards of education being at the heart of an open and inclusive standards adoption process. NASBE strongly opposes efforts to remove state boards of education from the adoption process.
  3. The adoption of any common standards by individual states must not be a condition for the receipt of federal aid.
  4. While common standards are an important reform, they are not likely by themselves to result in higher student achievement without concurrent state implementation efforts that include improved teacher development and induction processes, aligned instructional materials and assessments, and robust student intervention systems for those struggling to meet standards.
  5. In addition to their potential benefits for teaching and learning, common standards should be encouraged as a catalyst for lowering barriers for teacher certification reciprocity among states. (2009, 2013)

E. School Structure

Schools must be dynamic educational institutions that graduate students with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in the world. This requires a long term commitment of time, energy, and resources. States should:

  1. assure that students in all schools have opportunities to:
    1. learn and work cooperatively with other students,
    2. engage in higher order thinking,
    3. interact with teachers and other adults, and
    4. participate in courses across the curriculum;
  2. include students, educators, parents, business, and the broader community in significant school decisions;
  3. focus on individual schools as the sites for change;
  4. ensure that schools address the academic and non-academic needs of children and youth;
  5. ensure that schools develop and sustain positive school climates that:
    1. generate a strong sense of community, with commonly shared goals and high expectations for students and staff,
    2. encourage faculty to work together to develop materials, plan lessons, and improve their teaching practices,
    3. encourage students and parents to actively participate in school life; and
  6. have accountability systems that assess student performance, teacher effectiveness, school climate, and the effective use of resources at the school level. (1997)
  7. Eliminate barriers for student learning based on the calendar, seat time, and fixed physical boundaries in order to create environments that actively promote and support innovation within and beyond the school walls. This includes state actions that:
    1. allow and support flexibility and innovation for districts, schools, and teachers in developing schedules/calendars;
    2. allow students more flexibility in accumulating credits in order to break away from restrictive Carnegie Unit and seat time requirements;
    3. call for school improvement plans to include a broader range of adequate yearly progress metrics, such as health, science and technology, arts, and safety goals;
    4. support dual credit/dual enrollment and other opportunities for students to learn outside of the traditional classroom;
    5. allow districts to create alternative pathways to student graduation such as service learning and apprenticeships;
    6. allow districts flexibility to add their own measures to state assessments. (2011)
  8. Promote the use of technology to facilitate student learning that transcends the traditional building and school day. In particular,
    1. States should ensure that instructional materials policies allow schools to use technology to provide access to the most effective teaching and learning resources.
    2. Competency standards for educators should ensure that educators can effectively use technology for student engagement and achievement. Professional development should be offered to support the standards to ensure educator success.
    3. Technology should be used to provide real-time assessment and immediate support for student learning. (2011)

F. Alignment of the P-16 Education System

States should develop a structure to coordinate and address issues among the pre-kindergarten, K-12, and higher education systems. Among the actions states can take are:

  1. Creation of a joint database or mechanism to link the databases of the K-12 and higher education systems.
  2. Alignment of high school general education requirements with those of postsecondary education.

G. Core Curriculum

All students should have knowledge and expertise in broad curricular areas, including:

  1. Language arts, to include writing, reading, speaking, listening, literature, and communication;
  2. Mathematics, to include quantitative reasoning, problem solving, and the use and comprehension of data;
  3. Scientific literacy, with an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning;
  4. Technology, to include the use of technology to locate, analyze, and communicate information and understanding of the implications, both positive and negative, of technology for individuals and society;
  5. Citizenship, to include American and world history, civics and civic engagement, economics, and geography and a global perspective, as well as the promotion of such values as service to others, the dignity of work, sensitivity to our multicultural society, and the responsibilities of democracy;
  6. Fine Arts, to help young people develop their creative and critical abilities and understand the relationships between the arts, other disciplines, and society, and promote personal expression;
  7. Health topics, to be taught using a comprehensive approach combining physical fitness and general health information with HIV/AIDS education, sex education, and substance abuse education;
  8. Knowledge of the languages and cultures of the world’s peoples and of the interdependence of all peoples. This study should begin in the early grades; one of the benefits of the early study of foreign language is the understanding it brings to the study of English, and
  9. Financial literacy, to include the concepts, knowledge, and skills that will provide students with a foundation for analyzing increasingly complex financial problems, with a focus on young people becoming knowledgeable consumers, investors, money managers, citizens, and members of a global workforce and society.

H. Reading Curriculum and Instruction

It is essential that all students learn to read well. To that end, every state should develop, adopt, and vigorously implement a statewide literacy plan to ensure that all students can read proficiently. Such plans must be comprehensive, multifaceted, and at the same time reside within the framework of the state’s vision for standards-based education. As part of the plans, states should:

  1. Set statewide literacy goals and standards, ensuring alignment with curricula and assessments, and raising literacy expectations across the curriculum for all students in all grades.
  2. Ensure that teachers receive research-based preparation and professional development to provide effective, content-based literacy instruction.
  3. Strategically use data in identifying student needs, designing cohesive policies, and evaluating the quality of implementation and impact of reading initiatives.
  4. Require districts and schools to develop literacy plans that infuse research-based literacy instruction and support strategies in all content areas.
  5. Provide districts and schools with funding, supports, and resources.
  6. Ensure that assessment and reading improvement programs continue throughout kindergarten to twelfth grade.
  7. Provide strong state guidance and oversight to ensure robust implementation of comprehensive quality literacy programs at the local level.
  8. Encourage parents/caregivers, families, and community members to read to children, and encourage schools to use innovative techniques to increase the availability of reading materials and resources to parents and families. (2006)

I. Mathematics Curriculum and Instruction

States should have as a goal that all students complete a challenging, coherent, and focused K-12 mathematics curriculum which includes introductory algebra and geometry by the end of grade 9. In order to achieve this goal, states should work to ensure that:

  1. Mathematics is taught by teachers who are well-prepared in appropriate content and techniques of teaching mathematics.
  2. Graduation requirements prescribe that all students master a rigorous mathematics course of study.
  3. Pre-service teacher education programs are aligned with state licensure/certification standards.
  4. All persons teaching mathematics receive ongoing professional development consistent with the best available research.
  5. Assessment and mathematics improvement programs continue throughout kindergarten to twelfth grade.
  6. Mathematics assessments such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the Third International Mathematics and Science Survey (TIMSS), which are beneficial to states, should be continued. (1998)

J. Library-Media Services

Professional library-media specialists and a comprehensive library program with a wide variety of resources, including current technology, are essential to support student learning achievement and mastery of study and research skills. (1997)

K. Career-Technical Education (CTE)

  1. State school systems should provide meaningful opportunities for all students to engage in rigorous and relevant career and technical education, both at the high school level and in the middle grades. States should actively work to provide a range of experiences that expose students to career-related clusters such as health, law, or the performing arts. The goal is to provide exposure for students that gives them the opportunity to plan and to chose their own path in life, whether that choice is work after high school, a direct route to college, or work that’s followed by college at a later date.
  2. State boards of education and business leaders should join forces to drive an education agenda that will promote 21st century learning that focuses on developing our nation’s workforce and its citizens.
  3. State boards of education should support the convening of other state-level stakeholders, such as the chamber of commerce, the workforce development board, the legislature, the governor, other labor-related agencies, community colleges and higher education, P-20 councils, and industry leaders in an effort to connect economic and education issues.
  4. State boards of education should adopt policies to integrate CTE and academic coursework and standards, while providing multiple assessments to measure skill and knowledge attainment. States should also adopt policies to recognize students for career-focused learning.
  5. School systems should ensure seamless transitions for students from high school to postsecondary and beyond. This transition is one of the biggest hurdles for many students. State boards should work with other policymaking bodies throughout their state to ensure an easy-to-navigate transition of credits and skill attainment from high school to work and postsecondary education.
  6. States and local school systems need to develop policies to address quality, recruitment, and compensation for CTE instructors. Challenges include finding ways of incorporating skilledtrade experts into the classroom while continuing to provide high-quality instruction in core academics, as well as problems in recruiting high-quality candidates for CTE teaching positions when industry salaries are often higher than those offered to educators.
  7. State and local school systems need to address the poor image of CTE with educators, parents, guidance counselors, and the public. This should include an aggressive campaign to educate school administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, parents, and students about the promise of high-quality, rigorous CTE programs. Policymakers and business leaders have to convince those with doubts that CTE is a viable option for preparing students for life-long learning. (2009)

L. Class Size Reduction

Reducing actual class sizes to 20 or fewer students per classroom teacher in kindergarten through the third grade has been shown to be effective in improving student achievement. NASBE supports state and federal efforts to reduce class sizes. However, class size reduction is only effective when accompanied by resources to provide adequate space, classroom supplies, professional development, and recruitment of new teachers. In addition, any state or federal effort to reduce class size should assure adequate, continuous funding. (1998, 1999)

M. Middle Schools

  1. State boards of education should develop policy statements that recognize the importance of middle grades education and encourage the development of middle schools that have the following components:
    1. A rigorous academic program for all students that is aligned with state and local content standards, includes algebra I, and uses a variety of instructional approaches;
    2. Strong student engagement through such means as advisory programs, curricular relevancy, learning communities, and opportunities for virtual learning;
    3. Responsive support services for intervention with struggling students, beginning in the 6th grade;
    4. Practices that help students make smooth transitions from elementary school to middle school and from middle school to high school, ensuring that middle schools are an integral part of the P–16 system.
  2. States should develop licensure standards for middle level teachers and administrators that will lead preparation institutions to include the following elements in their middle-level teacher education programs:
    1. Recruitment of middle grades educators as a critical need area;
    2. Study of the psycho-social and personal development of early adolescents;
    3. Broad academic background plus concentrations in at least two academic areas;
    4. Early and continuing field experiences in middle schools.
  3. States should promote professional development for middle grades teachers and administrators that is focused, ongoing, and relevant to daily work of educators. These inservice experiences should be standards-based, deepen content knowledge, expand instructional skills, help educators use assessments and data to improve instruction, and provide follow-up assistance to help teachers use their newly gained knowledge and skills. (2009)

N. High Schools

The institution of the American high school must undergo sweeping improvements in order to prepare all students for today’s economy. High schools must reject the notion that students with different abilities should be prepared for different futures. They must be willing and able to prepare all students to achieve both in postsecondary education and in the workforce without remediation. To accomplish this, policymakers should promote the following principles of high school reform:

  1. High schools should be structured to provide a personalized learning experience for each student. This can be accomplished by:
    1. Creating smaller schools or schools within schools;
    2. Facilitating interdisciplinary courses and teacher teams;
    3. Developing individual student plans for each student, which should be revisited at least annually;
    4. Providing more intense, personalized counseling through reducing the student:counselor ratio or incorporating teacher advisories as part of the daily or weekly schedule; and
    5. Adjusting the timeframe associated with high school so that all students can meet the standards at their own pace.
  2. High schools need to reverse the long-standing trend which shows that family involvement tapers off when students reach high school. Secondary school students with involved families reach higher grades, complete more course credits, have better attendance, display fewer behavioral problems, and are better prepared for school.
  3. The high school curriculum and pedagogy should include contextual learning, which relates what is taught to some real-world context. Ways to promote learning in context include curriculum integration, service learning, project-based learning, problem-based learning, and work-based learning. In addition, learning environments should relate to the technology found in today’s workplace.
  4. Teaching staff of high schools should consist of quality educators who have been adequately prepared to teach a rigorous, standards-based curriculum to all students. All teachers must be prepared with appropriate pedagogical skills including the teaching of reading, basic academic skills, workplace skills, mastery of their specific content areas, and up-to-date knowledge of technology and how to use it effectively in the classroom. (2003)

O. School Improvement

The central goal of all education policies and programs needs to be school improvement for greater student achievement. In order to reach this goal, states should take the following actions:

  1. Allocate funds to districts to ensure that all schools have the resources they need to attract and retain high-quality school leaders, high-quality teachers, and high-quality staff;
  2. Develop and adopt effective teacher and school leader induction, support, and evaluation systems;
  3. Ensure that all teachers and school leaders are provided with quality professional development experiences that are related to state standards and continuous school improvement;
  4. Encourage teacher and administrator preparation programs to locate in communities that need school leaders and teachers;
  5. Provide fiscal resources, guidelines, and technical assistance to establish effective data systems to inform school improvement at all levels;
  6. Develop a comprehensive, statewide plan for improving schools that consistently do not meet standards. The elements of such a state plan should include:
    1. A strategy for building district capacity to turn around schools;
    2. Guidance to school districts on turnaround options, their research base, and conditions and environments where they were proven to be successful;
    3. State approval of local improvement plans;
    4. Investments in leadership, particularly at the school level;
    5. Requirement that all schools develop a school improvement plan;
    6. A system for tracking, analyzing, and disseminating results of ongoing restructuring efforts;
    7. A strategy for building the capacity of the state education agency to ensure it is able to carry out the state’s plan to help district improve schools that are not meeting standards; and
    8. Options for schools that continue to miss benchmarks. (2008; for more information, see NASBE’s report: Meeting the Challenge: The State’s Role in Improving Low-Performing Schools through Restructuring.)
  7. Promoting a strong connection between schools and families by ensuring that teacher and leadership preparation programs include a strong parent involvement component and that state mission statements and SEA staff members support parent involvement and promote parents as a resource; and
  8. Helping schools build a community environment to support improvement through:
    1. Promoting high-quality preschool by setting standards for preschool curriculum that align with K-12 standards, setting standards for preschool teachers and evaluating teachers according to these standards, and providing funding for the establishment of high-quality preschool;
    2. Supporting business partnerships with low-performing schools; and
    3. Supporting integrated community and social services by:
      1. Reviewing policies to ensure they support rather than impeded promising practices.
      2. Funding integrated service centers in targeted areas.
      3. Minimizing inter-departmental barriers at the state level. (2003)

P. Instructional Materials in Print, Electronic, and Other Media

  1. State boards should provide leadership to ensure that textbook adoption procedures and criteria at the state and local levels reflect an increasingly diverse array of materials.
  2. Materials should support the development of higher order cognitive thinking skills, rather than being merely attractive media that comprise a checklist of topics.
  3. State boards should ensure that educators and students have access to a full range of curricular materials that present a wide range of viewpoints.

Q. Choice among Public Schools

  1. Students and families should have the opportunity to choose among schools and programs within the public school system.
  2. State boards should encourage innovation and a variety of quality education options for students. For any system of public school choice to work, state boards should ensure that all families are actively informed about the alternatives available to them.

R. Charter Schools

  1. Publicly supported charter schools that contract for greater autonomy in exchange for strict accountability can be a viable educational option. The authority to grant public school charters should primarily lie with school districts, state boards of education, or with other entities that are also accountable to the public. Every chartering body must be able to give fair consideration to charter applicants and have the necessary capacity to assess instructional and business plans, compose valid time-specific contracts, and monitor student achievement and fiscal accountability on an ongoing basis. Procedures for canceling a charter due to poor student performance or other valid reasons should be fair, yet decisive.
  2. State charter laws, policies, and procedures should address students’ diverse learning needs including those of students with disabilities. Additionally, it is critical that laws, policies, and practices prevent charter schools from becoming instruments for the segregation of students based on the level of their academic ability.
  3. Appeal mechanisms should be established in order to assure due process for charter applicants and holders. State boards must maintain ultimate oversight of all publicly funded schools, including charter schools.
  4. State boards should ensure that every public charter school:
    1. is nonsectarian and not-for-profit, and does not assess families for additional tuition;
    2. is governed by an independent board knowledgeable about education and exercising full fiduciary responsibility;
    3. actively informs families of their opportunities to apply for admission and admits students on the basis of a lottery if more students apply than can be accommodated;
    4. submits sound instructional, academic assessment, staffing, financing, facilities, and fiscal management plans to its sponsoring entity;
    5. meets or exceeds state-determined content standards and is subject to the state’s academic accountability requirements;
    6. endeavors to foster a cooperative relationship with its local school district;
    7. provides an annual audit and reports on audit results, student learning results and other indicators of school performance to its sponsoring agency;
    8. employs qualified teachers and administrators as per state and federal requirements;
    9. complies with all applicable federal, state and local civil rights laws and regulations, including those concerning the education of students with disabilities; and
    10. complies with all applicable public health and safety laws and regulations. (2004)

S. State Longitudinal Data Systems

  1. Quality data is essential for improving education systems, classroom instruction, and student achievement. State boards of education should not only support the building of a complete longitudinal data system, but also create a culture of data use to ensure that this information is used in the effort to improve student achievement and ensure that student privacy protection is an inherent part of any data system.
  2. NASBE recommends that all state data systems have the following essential elements, based in part on recommendations by the Data Quality Campaign:
    1. A unique statewide student identifier;
    2. Student-level enrollment, demographic, and program participation information;
    3. Ability to match individual students’ test records from year-to-year to measure academic growth;
    4. Information on untested students;
    5. Teacher identifier system with the ability to match teachers to students;
    6. Student-level transcript information, including information on courses completed and grades earned;
    7. Student-level college readiness test scores;
    8. Student-level graduation and dropout data;
    9. Ability to match student records between the P-12 and post-secondary system;
    10. Data on student health indicators, including but not limited to mental health; tobacco, alcohol, and substance use; teen pregnancy; school safety; unintentional injuries; and physical fitness; and
    11. A state data audit system assessing data quality, validity, and reliability.
  3. State boards of education should take the following steps to promote the use of longitudinal data:
    1. Ensure the longitudinal data system facilitates the easy transfer of student records between and among schools and districts.
    2. Appoint a data coordinator for the state who will ensure that data use is central to all instructional and management processes.
    3. Create tools, resources, and services that will assist districts and schools in using data.
    4. Develop statewide professional development programs for school personnel on accessing and using data from the state longitudinal data system.
    5. Ensure that all graduates of the state’s teacher colleges and certification programs are trained in using data as an instructional tool. (2009)

T. Principles for Instructional Materials in a Digital Age

  1. Recognizing the need for high-quality, innovative instructional materials to advance student achievement, NASBE recommends that states use the following principles for instructional materials:
    1. They allow for flexible use and control over content by users to meet a range of instructional approaches and modalities and the individualized needs of all students, including access by students with disabilities.
    2. They are closely aligned with state standards for what students should know and be able to do and with the state accountability system.
    3. They are accessible “on demand” at the time and place of learning, whether in or out of school.
    4. They are cost-effective and represent good value for the investment of public dollars.
    5. They address the needs for teacher training on using the materials.
    6. They are vetted by subject matter experts and educators to ensure academic quality for increased student achievement.
    7. They are updated frequently to reflect new developments in the content areas and be consistent with the development of new standards and assessments.
    8. They engage learners through multiple media (in print, online, audio, video), as well as through interaction and simulation.
    9. They are able to be supported by or grow from voluntary, collaborative inter-state efforts.
  2. States should consider copyright, liability, and other legal issues in the adoption of instructional materials. (2010)

U. Developing Education and Military Partnerships to Meet the Needs of Students

Policymakers and educators can learn success strategies from many military training programs, which succeed with young people where others fail because of their attention to a holistic approach to student education and development. These program strategies, placed within a school context, provide a structured environment with personalized support that includes relevant curriculum aligned to desired outcomes, postsecondary planning services, and multiple pathways to graduation.

NASBE believes state and local policymakers should take steps to foster successful education-military partnerships and promote the use of successful educational strategies developed as part of military training programs. These steps include:

  1. Evaluating and modifying policies to encourage student participation in programs that help young people become productive and responsible citizens.
  2. Instituting cognitive and non-cognitive assessments, such as the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), as diagnostic tools to assist students as they plan for their transition from secondary education to postsecondary life.
  3. Seeking out and promoting evidence-supported education programs and strategies, including military-themed/generated programs, that help prepare students for any postsecondary pathway: education, military service, or employment.
  4. Taking advantage of possible educational partnerships with all branches of the armed services.
  5. Leveraging state board authority over state school counseling mandates, guidance counselor certification requirements and school counseling programs so that counselors can better inform students and parents about evidence-supported education programs and strategies, including military-themed or generated programs, as well as help them create a postsecondary plan that examines all options in education, military service, or employment. (2011)

V. Closing the Achievement Gap

NASBE is strongly committed to holding high expectations for all students and eliminating persistent disparities in achievement performance among students of different racial, ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic groups. NASBE believes all children are capable of learning at high individual levels when supported by a receptive and nurturing community, quality instruction, and rigorous curriculum. (2012)

W. Summer Learning

  1. Effective summer learning programs can combat the effects of learning loss. To ensure summer programs are effective, states and districts should take into account the best available research and use the following promising principles:
    1. Increase the duration and scope of summer programs so they are of sufficient length, full time, and integrate these programs into any district reform strategy;
    2. Expand participation beyond academically struggling students, since all students can benefit from summer learning programs;
    3. Strengthen and expand partnerships in order to improve coordination between programs, agencies and funding streams;
    4. Encourage attendance and participation through a variety of means, such as providing transportation, comprehensive supports, and attractive programming that blends academic learning with engaging activities;
    5. Align the curriculum with the school year, providing both remediation from the previous year and an introduction to material for the upcoming year;
    6. Emphasize professional development for staff in summer learning programs.
  2. State boards of education should ensure that districts recognize their authority and are encouraged to include high-quality summer learning as part of their overall academic program. State boards can also develop model standards or guidelines for out-of-school time and/or summer learning programs. (For more information, see NASBE’s Discussion Guide, Summer Learning: A New Vision for Supporting Students in Summer Programs – 2012)

X. Deeper Learning 

Deeper learning represents an education that not only facilitates mastery of academic content, but other key competencies – including critical thinking and problem solving, effective communication, collaboration, learning how to learn, self-regulation, and academic mindsets – that are important for success in college, career, and civic life. To enable all students to acquire both the knowledge and skills they need, state boards of education should:

1. Align students’ educational experiences with 21st century college, career, and civic demands so graduates have not only mastered core academic knowledge, but have attained competency in such as areas as problem solving, written and oral communication, teamwork, and self-direction. To accomplish this, state boards can:

a. Develop and communicate a comprehensive vision of college, career, and civic readiness.

b. Provide students with guided awareness opportunities and project based learning to extend their understanding of postsecondary education, career, and civic life beyond the high school experience, and help them develop deeper learning competencies. These should be incorporated as part of high school graduation requirements.

c. Prepare educators to use instructional approaches that facilitate deeper learning. Such approaches include team teaching; emphasizing broad applicability of concepts, encouraging elaboration, self-explanation, and metacognition; and formative assessment.

d. Create opportunities for educators to more easily access open education resources that support deeper learning.

2. Enable a system that is driven by quality and open to innovation. In an era of rapidly changing knowledge, technology, and skill-requirements, state boards must work to ensure their school system is nimble enough to promote needed changes while maintaining an eye toward quality and positive results for all students. To accomplish this, state boards can:

a. Engage in important discussions on new educational policies both within and across states. Boards should continually learn from promising initiatives being pursued by other states and districts.

b. Designate innovation zones, provide waivers, and take other steps to empower those willing to try out promising innovative practices.

c. Develop a comprehensive state strategy for promoting deeper learning.

d. Continue as an on-going partner after a new policy or program is approved.
e. Continue investments in data systems that help evaluate the effectiveness of policies.

3. Support a system that comprehensively addresses the unique needs of individual students and their ability to learn. This means educators and other school staff must be able to identify student challenges in a proactive, preventive manner; be trained in addressing the needs of students holistically; and be sufficiently knowledgeable and supported in referring students to other resources when challenges exceed their capacity and expertise. To accomplish this, state boards can:

a. Develop standards that meet the complete needs of the learner. This means not just approving core academic standards, but providing guidance and quality standards around a range of topics that contribute to a well-rounded education, including everything from physical education and nutrition to social-emotional learning and postsecondary counseling. Note that while addressing essential needs, these standards should also be reinforcing key deeper learning knowledge and skills necessary for college, career, and civic success.

b. Ensure that educators can meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student body. For example, state boards can develop school climate guidelines that provide districts clear benchmarks for removing barriers to learning, facilitating community engagement, and making direct connections between school climate and deeper learning.

c. Empower schools to leverage external partnerships to meet learners’ needs comprehensively. This is especially important when students face challenges beyond a teacher’s training, or what a school’s climate can accommodate.

School Improvement


A. Culturally Competent School System

In order to foster true democratic opportunity and participation, NASBE believes that policymakers and practitioners need to develop a culturally competent education system that helps all students and school staff interact constructively with individuals from diverse backgrounds; helps students develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they need to achieve to high standards; and fosters a renewed focus on the ideals that bind rather than divide all Americans.

Such a system addresses persistent underachievement, stereotyping, and intolerance by focusing on three related aims: 1) culturally competent schools encourage individuals to understand differences among groups of people; 2) culturally competent schools foster high levels of learning in all students; and 3) culturally competent schools strengthen the nation. In addition, a culturally competent school system:

  1. Uses high-quality academic standards and standards- based accountability as the basis of instruction for all students, thereby assuring policymakers, educators, and parents that no group of students is being left behind in the back rooms of education.
  2. Reports assessment data disaggregated by race or ethnicity, gender, income, special needs, and English language proficiency.
  3. Adopts a curriculum that fosters cultural competency.
  4. Demonstrates respect for students’ identities and welcomes a diverse community to participate in schools.
  5. Acknowledges students’ diverse learning styles.
  6. Ensures qualified personnel for all students.
  7. Provides extra help for schools and students who need it.
  8. Promotes in students a sense of national unity and civic responsibility while at the same time instilling an understanding of other cultures and their contributions to our society.
  9. Encourage state P-20 systems to develop standards for ensuring culturally competent education. (2002, 2012; for more information, see NASBE’s report: A More Perfect Union: Building an Education System that Embraces All Children)

 B. English Language Learners

  1. State boards of education should consider establishing clear language learning goals, or revisiting and clarifying their existing goals, to guide the work of educators at every level and lay a rational foundation for further policy development. Such goals would include:
    1. expectations that English language learners will progress to academic proficiency in English and placement in regular, challenging classrooms as rapidly as possible, without setting arbitrary, one-size-fits-all timelines that do not take into account the learning needs of individual students;
    2. expectations that all students will become proficient in a second language (or more), including reading, writing, speaking, and cultural understanding, and will be provided opportunities to do so at every educational level; and
    3. preservation of specific endangered heritage languages in the state by fostering new generations of speakers.
  2. State boards of education should standardize how English language learners are identified and tracked.
  3. State education leaders should use a variety of policy levers to recruit and prepare adequate numbers of specialized, highly qualified ESL and world language teachers.
  4. State boards of education should require that all educators learn basic ESL concepts and techniques.
  5. State boards of education should select/develop and administer a comprehensive system of valid and reliable assessments to hold schools accountable for students’ English language proficiency and mastery of academic content. Guiding principles for such a system include the following:
    1. Multiple measures of performance, such as portfolio assessment, hands-on demonstrations, and performance-based assessment, should be employed to obtain a more comprehensive picture of students’ language skills and content knowledge;
    2. School officials, in consultation with ESL-trained educators, should be permitted to determine when an English language learner has attained sufficient English proficiency that the student’s academic progress can be appropriately assessed using an English language test;
    3. Content-area assessments in English should undergo rigorous review for language difficulty. Test questions should be modified to minimize unnecessary linguistic complexity and cultural bias without “dumbing down” the content being tested; and
    4. The literacy skills of an incoming ELL student should be assessed in both English and the student’s native language, if possible. (2008; for more information, see NASBE’s report, E Pluribus Unum: English, Language Education, and America’s Future.)



Family and Community

Family and community involvement in children’s learning and in helping schools achieve their mission is key to successful education systems. NASBE believes that the following actions and concepts will help foster productive relationships among schools, families, and communities:

Family and Community Involvement in Schools

Support for Families


Corporate Involvement in Schools

Contracting for Educational Services

Community Schools

School-Community Partnerships

 A. Family and Community Involvement in Schools

  1. State boards of education should support policies and programs to encourage parent involvement in all aspects of their children’s education, including specific learning activities, volunteering in classrooms and school programs, and governance and advocacy in education.
  2. Activities to promote parent involvement should include training for parents, teachers, and administrators; resources to support, assess and disseminate model local programs and materials; efforts to enhance local leadership and coordination of parent involvement; and outreach programs to educate parents as to their responsibilities regarding the behavior, health, and education of their children.
  3. Community involvement should be fostered in forms such as school/business partnerships, provision of comprehensive services to children and youth, mentoring programs, and community service activities. State leadership should include training for educators; resources to develop, assess, and disseminate model local projects; and direct state-level efforts to work with the private sector, foundations, and other public agencies.
  4. State boards should encourage cooperation among local schools and community agencies in establishing a range of field-based educational opportunities for all school age students. These programs should meet state education standards so that academic credit may be awarded.

 B. Support for Families

Family members are a child’s first and most influential teachers. Compelling evidence indicates that the sensory and emotional environments of infants and young children affect their development in profound ways. Assisting families to provide a solid foundation for their children’s later education is cost-effective for society and for state government. State boards should lend support to efforts to ensure access to maternal and child health services, nutrition services, quality day care, family literacy programs, parenting education, early childhood education, and early detection and intervention programs that help families overcome impediments to children’s learning. (1997)

C. Censorship

Parents have a legitimate concern about books or programs that may shape the morals, prejudices, or behavior of their children. Because of attempts to censor materials being used in public school systems, local school boards should adopt policies and procedures to receive and review requests that challenge public school practices and programs. Community members should be aware of their rights to voice their opinions about school practices and programs and be encouraged to do so within an appropriate administrative forum.

D. Corporate Involvement in Schools

School-business relationships based on sound principles can contribute to high quality education. However, compulsory attendance confers on educators an obligation to protect the welfare of their students and the integrity of the learning environment. Therefore, when working with businesses, schools must ensure that educational values are not distorted in the process. Positive school-business relationships should be ethical and structured in accordance with the following principles:

  1. Selling or providing access to a captive audience in the classroom for commercial purposes is exploitation and a violation of the public trust.
  2. Corporate involvement shall not require students to observe, listen to, or read commercial advertising.
  3. Programs of corporate involvement must be structured to meet an identified education need, not a commercial motive, and must be evaluated for educational effectiveness by the school/district on an ongoing basis. Corporate involvement must support the goals and objectives of the schools.
  4. Sponsor recognition and corporate logos should be for identification rather than commercial purposes.
  5. Schools and educators should hold sponsored and donated materials to the same standards used for the selection and purchase of curriculum materials.
  6. Corporate involvement programs should not limit the discretion of schools and teachers in the use of sponsored materials. (1998)

E. Contracting for Educational Services

In the future, private enterprise, both profit and not-for-profit, may play an important role in public schools. States should take a number of actions to ensure that they are prepared.

  1. States should develop standards for private concerns doing business with public schools. The standards should require that contracts for such services specify results and include real penalties for failure to achieve them.
  2. State boards should ensure that privately managed public schools are included in the state’s accountability system and held to the same standards as other schools in the state. Privately managed districts should be subject to the same corrective actions as other districts in the state.
  3. State boards should review and update, as appropriate, their state’s regulations regarding the authority given to local boards for contracting with private concerns.
  4. State boards should review their licensing requirements for superintendents and other administrators, both to provide flexibility in hiring and to ensure that administrators have the managerial skills needed for today’s schools and districts. (1998)

F. Community Schools

  1. Community schools are public education facilities that are open beyond the traditional school day to provide academic, extra-curricular, recreational, health, social services, and work force preparation programs for people of all ages.
  2. State boards of education can play an active role in fostering community schools by developing and/or supporting school-community programs, advocating the flexible use of state and local funds to allow for pooling of resources from different agencies and sources, and garnering support for community schools by promoting their benefits through policy statements, public dialogue, and testimony. (1998)

G. School-Community Partnerships

State boards of education should leverage their leadership and policymaking roles to promote the importance of school-community partnerships as part of comprehensive education and dropout prevention plans. State boards can do this by:

  1. Creating a communication plan to inform students, parents, other stakeholders, department of education staff, districts, and schools on community and education issues and how each of these individuals and entities can be involved.
  2. Leading by example as they develop and facilitate partnerships, as well as support local collaborations that connect state-level policymakers to workforce development, higher education, families, and the community at-large.
  3. Promoting partnerships and dropout prevention initiatives by providing small grants to schools and districts or making sure currently available resources are allocated appropriately.
  4. Using their role as policymakers to examine current policies and ensuring they encourage, support, and sustain best practice models of school-community partnerships and dropout prevention
  5. Creating a systemic, comprehensive education framework around an inclusive vision for student success that defines and includes the specific roles of parents, businesses, the faith community, and other community, mental, and physical health organizations.
  6. Developing a longitudinal, comprehensive data system that includes students’ academic, behavioral, and health data, is able to provide real-time information, and can flag students who may need early intervention programs and services.
  7. Creating multiple pathways to graduation and opportunities to gain and apply knowledge and skills (e.g., through service learning or career technical courses) that will require strategic school-community partnerships. (2010)


Family and Community


Each state must provide adequate and equitable financial support for public education within its boundaries. NASBE supports the following concepts:

Leadership for Education Funding

Responsibility for Federal Funds

Funding of Mandated Programs

Equitable Funding Distribution

Funding for Nonpublic Schools

Funding Nutrition Programs

School Trust Lands

Education Budget Priorities


A. Leadership for Education Funding

State boards should lead efforts to initiate and revise educational funding to provide quality education for all students enrolled in public schools. This leadership should include:

  1. informing state legislators and all other citizens of the financial needs of public schools;
  2. accounting to them for the use made of state funds and the accomplishments of the public school system; and
  3. advocating, in coalition with state policymakers, local districts and other stakeholders, for consistent funding mechanisms to ensure that all students attend schools with adequate facilities and equipment. (1997)

B. Responsibility for Federal Funds

Each state education agency should receive, administer, and account for all federal education funds. Local school districts should implement these specific expenditures within federal and state guidelines.

C. Funding of Mandated Programs

Whenever state or federal mandates result in added costs to state agencies or local districts, the mandating authority should provide funding to defray such costs.

D. Equitable Funding Distribution

State boards should advocate school finance mechanisms that distribute education resources equitably across the state and help reduce funding disparities between rich and poor districts.

E. Funding for Nonpublic Schools

There should be no use of public funds nor tax credits given for vouchers or scholarships to nonpublic schools.

F. Funding Nutrition Programs

Since adequate nourishment for children is critical to their health and ability to learn, state and federal funding to assure adequate maternal and child nutrition should be a high priority.

G. School Trust Lands

  1. States should make every effort to maximize financial returns from school trust lands. (1996)
  2. When school trust lands are included in open space or federal preserves such as national parks, national monuments and national forests, there should be adequate, just and timely compensation for these claims. (1996) (2003)

H. Education Budget Priorities

Budget priorities in difficult economic times should place highest priority on areas directly affecting student achievement. (2009)



NASBE believes that education should address the individual needs of each student. Each state board should assume an active leadership role to identify educational needs, priorities and plans of implementation for the state, based on these program principles:

At-Risk Students

Alternative Schools for Students at Risk of Failing or Dropping Out of School

Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenthood

Dropout Prevention

Corporal Punishment

Youth Service

Early Learning Education Policies

School-age Child Care

Equal Educational Opportunity

Students with Special Needs

Small Schools

Homeless Children

Adult Education

Employment Training Programs

Comprehensive Services

Character Education

The Role of Schools in Confronting Social Issues

Civic Engagement and Ethical Behavior in a Global Society

Student Promotion and Retention

Athletic Participation

Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy

Student Data Privacy

School Discipline

A. At-Risk Students

    1. Programs for students at risk of school failure should include the following components:
      1. early interventions supported by monitoring, assessment, and follow-up;
      2. an effective learning environment;
      3. preparation of all staff to work with at-risk youth;
      4. high expectations in academics and student behavior; and
      5. linkages among schools, juvenile courts, and other social services agencies.
    2. Fiscal support should be provided by the states to school districts containing a high concentration of children at risk of educational failure.
    3. State boards should make at-risk youth a regular agenda item for their policy review cycles.

B. Alternative Schools for Students at Risk of Failing or Dropping Out of School

Successful alternative education programs and schools can help students who are not succeeding in the traditional school setting. State boards should ensure that alternative schools and programs for at-risk students have the following characteristics:

    1. They adhere to state education standards.
    2. They enforce well-defined standards of behavior.
    3. They provide the assessment and support services needed to clearly identify and address the cognitive, emotional, health and socio-economic factors affecting the education and development of their students. These services may be provided directly or through cooperation with other agencies.
    4. They maintain an appropriate student-to-staff ratio.
    5. They maintain a rigorous program for parental involvement.
    6. They maintain ongoing professional and staff development.
    7. They maintain a safe environment.
    8. They make appropriate life skills and job training available to all students. (1998)

C. Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenthood

    1. Schools should provide the information and skills necessary to assist students in avoiding adolescent pregnancy. Both male and female students must understand the impact of early parenthood.
    2. In cases of adolescent pregnancy and/or parenthood, all related programs, services, supports, and policies should be provided to both the male and female;
    3. Schools should coordinate with community teen pregnancy prevention activities and services for pregnant and parenting teens to develop comprehensive prevention plans. (1998)

D. Dropout Prevention

State boards should lead in establishing comprehensive dropout prevention programs. In particular they should:

    1. Help schools provide students with access to various academic, health, and social services need to complete their education;
    2. Establish policies for identifying and retrieving students who have already left the system.
    3. Work with state departments of education and local districts to collect accurate data on at-risk students and dropouts.

E. Corporal Punishment

Child abuse, including the psychological maltreatment of children and the use of corporal punishment in schools, is wrong and should be condemned.

F. Youth Service

State boards should encourage all schools to offer community service programs as an integral part of the learning process. State boards should foster these activities by:

    1. ensuring that service learning programs help students make connections between their service experiences and the rest of the educational program; and
    2. ensuring that service learning experiences are monitored and evaluated.

G. Early Learning Education Policies

Preschool child development programs have significant long term benefits for learning. Therefore, NASBE supports a wide variety of public, voluntary, and private arrangements for preschool development programs backed by a statewide vision for high quality early education. States developing preschool systems should consider having:

    1. Aligned, comprehensive prekindergarten through grade three early learning standards. Core requirements and standards for programs and professional development should reflect the research on effective early learning and development and address the capacity of programs to deliver quality instruction.
    2. Accountability based on a continuous improvement approach that includes ongoing evaluation to assess a program’s plan for meeting early learning needs, the quality of its implementation, and its impact on children and families. Accountability systems should use multiple age-appropriate indicators of both how children are progressing and the quality dimensions of classrooms so that needed improvements and professional development can be identified.
    3. State standards for teachers and preparation programs should require early childhood education teachers to have a Bachelor’s degree and specialized early childhood training at the college level consistent with a common vision of high-quality early education.
    4. Plans for increasing access to high-quality preschool programs, beginning with children from low-income families.

H. School-age Child Care

State Boards should encourage the coordination and extension of before- and after-school child care to unsupervised school age children. Such programs should ensure that all staff possess the training, credentials, and/or certification to meet the unique needs of the children participating.

I. Equal Educational Opportunity

    1. NASBE vigorously supports equal educational opportunity.
    2. American public schools are committed to educating all students. This commitment to equal educational opportunity means that schools must address the educational, social, and personal needs of diverse sets of students, including different racial and ethnic groups, females and males, and students with special needs. In addressing equal educational opportunity, state boards should strive for excellence without forsaking equity and strive for equity without forsaking excellence. Insuring these dual goals requires constant vigilance that one is not sacrificed in pursuing the other.
    3. State boards should provide leadership in eliminating the stereotyping and discrimination on the basis of sex, age, disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic background and national origin in curriculum materials, counseling methods and other education processes.
    4. State board policies should be free of gender bias. In addition, NASBE supports ongoing efforts to encourage students of either sex to enter fields in which they have been traditionally under-represented.

J. Students with Special Needs

    1. To ensure equal educational opportunities, services should be provided for special student needs. Learning programs should identify and address the individual needs and learning styles of all students, including those who are disabled, disadvantaged, migrant, gifted or talented, parenting or pregnant, minority or of limited English proficiency.
    2. State boards should ensure that policies are developed and implemented which guarantee that all students are educated in school environments that include rather than exclude them. Inclusion means that all children must be educated in supported, heterogeneous, age-appropriate, natural, child-focused school environments for the purpose of preparing them for full participation in our diverse and integrated society.

K. Small Schools

Small schools and schools in rural areas commonly face special problems associated with distance, sparse population, poverty, and staffing. State boards must ensure there are programs that effectively meet the needs of children in such schools. Educational technology and shared services should be among the approaches used to alleviate the unique problems of small and rural schools.

L. Homeless Children

Studies show that the number of homeless families with children continues to grow and that many of these children do not attend school on a regular basis. In order to address this situation, NASBE:

    1. supports efforts to increase awareness about homeless children in the state; and identify state laws, policies, and practices that impede their access to free and appropriate education; and
    2. encourages state boards to work collaboratively with the state legislature and other organizations to ensure these students have access to a coordinated network of services.

M. Adult Education

NASBE supports efforts to strengthen efforts toward comprehensive statewide planning for a continuum of educational programs for adults.

N. Employment Training Programs

NASBE supports joint efforts among school districts, postsecondary institutions, profit, and nonprofit sectors to offer employment training programs that:

    1. are available to all students;
    2. coordinate curriculum content and programs in order to meet state labor market opportunities;
    3. provide academic credit for appropriate workplace experiences; and;
    4. encourage employers to utilize both experiences staff and certified instructors in employment training programs.

O. Comprehensive Services

    1. The nation’s schools and social service agencies should work together to solve difficult and complex problems and integrate services for young people and families in need. Such groups as preschool children, abused and neglected children, school-aged parents, youth in correctional institutions, families living in poverty, and adults in need of additional training require the services of a variety of agencies and would benefit from improved coordination.
    2. Research shows that health and nutrition are linked to a student’s ability to learn to high standards. State boards of education, along with other policymakers, should seek systemic change to ensure the provision of a comprehensive, whole-family approach in service delivery. (1997)

P. Character Education

    1. Schools should provide instruction to students in core character qualities that transcend cultural, religious, and socioeconomic differences such as common courtesy, respect for person and property, civic and personal responsibility, honesty, and fairness. (1998)
    2. Schools should provide a proactive, positive, skill-building approach for the teaching and learning of successful student behavior. (2008)
    3. State boards should encourage local school districts to promote the principles of character education and development that will foster positive character traits in students. (1998)

Q. The Role of Schools in Confronting Social Issues

The social context in which students live has an impact on their ability to learn and effectively transition into adulthood. This is an issue that is critical to schools but one they should not be expected to address alone. Nevertheless, schools have an important role to play in addressing the needs of students by helping them succeed academically and supporting their growth towards successful, productive, and healthy adult lives.

    1. NASBE supports state development of guidelines for positive environments that foster academic achievement and support the developmental needs of children and youth.
    2. State Boards of Education should take a leadership role in working with other state policymakers to create a shared vision and sense of responsibility for helping children and youth succeed.
    3. State Boards of Education should work with other stakeholders collaboratively to identify and use resources available to help schools provide safe, positive learning environments for student needs.
    4. Research shows that health and nutrition are linked to a student’s ability to learn to high standards. State boards of education, along with other policymakers, should seek systemic change to ensure the provision of a comprehensive, whole-family approach in service delivery. (1997, 1999)

R. Civic Engagement and Ethical Behavior in a Global Society

Promoting civic engagement in our schools and among our students is fundamental to preserving our traditional American values of self-government and our leadership among nations. NASBE encourages states to reinvigorate citizenship education by ensuring that students have the knowledge, skills, and disposition to engage effectively in their rapidly expanding worlds by:

    1. Incorporating civic learning into standards, pedagogy, assessment, and accountability policies whenever possible.
    2. Encouraging schools to work with community organizations to offer experiential opportunities that are relevant to students’ everyday lives and to academics, as well as encouraging experiential learning through extra-curricular activities; and
    3. Encouraging educators to include ethical discussion and lessons throughout the school day. (2007)

S. Student Promotion and Retention

  1. Both promoting students who do not achieve state education standards (“social promotion”) and retention in grade should be considered options of last resort. Rather, state boards should ensure that every student receives the educational services required to reach the standards.

Further, state boards should advocate:

    1. early childhood assessment, intervention, and education programs that prepare young children to succeed in school;
    2. ongoing assessment of student progress in meeting education standards, using more than one measure, to identify weaknesses at an early stage so that timely interventions can be applied; and
    3. adequate resources to schools for preventive and remedial interventions, including staff professional development. (2000)

T. Athletic Participation

It is recognized that student participation in extra-curricular athletic activity is predicated on activities that are embedded in a healthy school environment designed to ensure appropriate academic and athletic programs. To this end it is important that:

    1. Athletic eligibility is dependent on the student’s progress towards the successful completion of high school education as defined by the state;
    2. State Boards of Education consider policies that test and monitor the use of performance-enhancing drugs by high school athletes;
    3. State Boards of Education provide for coaching excellence by reviewing certification and professional development requirements and, if absent, establish certification and professional development requirements for all coaches. (2005)

U. Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy

State boards of education should urge their districts and schools to address the critical areas of digital citizenship, digital literacy, and social networking through the creation of appropriate policies and programs. State boards should also ensure that the state education department is prepared to offer resources and guidance for these efforts.

V. Student Data Privacy

Data is immensely valuable to education. Effective data use supports student achievement and allows the efficient operation of schools. However, data cannot be collected without factoring in the protection of that data. Safeguarding student privacy is a critical part of data use. Policymakers have a responsibility: to define how data is used by school officials (educators and staff), state and federal agencies, and third-party vendors who are working with schools; to inform families about their right to access and amend their child’s data and know how that data is being used; and to safeguard the privacy, security, and accuracy of that data.

In order to ensure that state and local data collection is effective, secure, and protects individual rights, NASBE recommends that states create and/or supplement their state’s privacy laws and policies with the following elements:

  1. A statement of the purposes of the privacy law or policy that acknowledges both the educational value of data and the importance of protecting that data;
  1. The designation of a person or group that is in charge of student data privacy for the state (which could be the state board of education and/or a newly created Chief Education Privacy Officer) that is responsible for: answering any stakeholder inquiries about student data privacy; and establishing and/or implementing statewide policies to protect all student data, including any collected post-secondary or workforce data, especially personally identifiable information;
  1. A set of strategies for promoting transparency and public knowledge that makes information about the “who, what, where, why, and when” of data collection easily accessible to parents and the public clarifying the importance of data for educational purposes, how that data is being used and protected, and what their rights are to view and amend their child’s data;
  1. A provision limiting third-party vendors from using student data for non-educational purposes unless expressly authorized in writing by the school and allowed under federal and state law;
  1. A review of the state’s current resources related to student data privacy, such as the state’s staff and technical capacity to store, manage, and protect the data;
  1. The creation of minimum statewide data security standards that incorporates administrative, physical, and technical safeguards; and
  1. A plan for ensuring educators and administrators have the knowledge, skills, and support to use education data effectively and securely through methods such as teacher or administrator preparation programs, annual professional development, and evaluations of classroom data use and security on an ongoing basis.

W. School Discipline Policies

Data from national and state sources have shown that a very significant number of students are being removed from classrooms through suspensions and expulsions, and referrals to law enforcement agencies, often through the inflexible administration of zero tolerance policies. These data also show that students of color—especially boys—and students with disabilities are disproportionately affected by suspensions, expulsions, and juvenile justice referrals. Students who are suspended or expelled often receive less instruction, have lower achievement levels, and are more likely to drop out—and dropouts are three times more likely to be incarcerated than those who graduate from high school.

In order to ensure that schools have safe, positive learning environments for all students, NASBE recommends that state policies regarding school discipline:

  1. Encourage districts and schools to move away from inflexible zero tolerance policies to address discipline in favor of more proportionate policies that reduce the number of suspensions, expulsions, and referrals to law enforcement in total as well as reduce the disparities in the rates of suspension and expulsion among different student groups;
  1. Require districts and schools to have school-wide discipline policies that set high expectations for behavior; provide clear, developmentally appropriate, and proportional consequences for misbehavior; keep disciplined students engaged in the educational process to the greatest extent possible, and have due process protections for all students.
  1. Promote implementation of positive behavioral interventions, restorative justice practices, peer mediation, counseling, and other discipline prevention strategies designed to improve school climate, maximize student learning, and minimize exposure to the juvenile justice system. This should include promoting school and district partnerships with community-based social services providers that can offer support when discipline issues are associated with underlying conditions such as psychological/emotional problems, drug or alcohol abuse, or family challenges,;\
  1. Require districts and schools to collect and report disaggregated data around suspensions, expulsions, school-based arrests, and court referrals, and to use this data to continuously improve local discipline policies and programs;
  1. Provide for collection of school- and district-level disciplinary data by the state board of education, to be reported to the public and used for improving state school discipline policies;
  1. Require districts to establish formal agreements with law enforcement agencies that support safety and positive school climate goals and that clearly define the different disciplinary and safety roles played by school administrators /staff and the school-based law enforcement personnel; and
  1. Encourage districts and schools to provide training to all adults who work in schools to help them improve and foster supportive disciplinary practices and respond to behavioral problems fairly and equitably.

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