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State Boards Have a Role to Play in Incubating School Improvement Networks

For Immediate Release: December 13, 2017

Contact: Renee Rybak Lang,, 703-740-4841

State Boards Have a Role to Play in Incubating School Improvement Networks

Alexandria, VA — States, districts, and schools across the country are forming “networked improvement communities” to address problems of practice, make changes based on data, and make connections across schools. These networks build capacity to improve schools, ensure effective change processes are in place, and make it possible to bring innovations to scale. A new NASBE policy update explores how statewide networked improvement communities work and how state boards of education can nurture them.

State-convened school improvement communities share a few qualities: They focus on a defined statewide problem of practice; use research and a system of measures; and have a collectively developed theory of practice improvement. State boards can convene stakeholders with knowledge of the social, political, legal, and policy geographies in the state to lead, organize, and operate such networks. Several states have already engaged in such work:

  • The Virginia State Board of Education created a consortium of 13 school districts to reexamine assessments, with a core focus on student agency for deeper learning. This networked improvement community plans to implement student-led learning in ways that align with their current assessment plan, lead to improvement across multiple contexts, and can be scaled up.
  • Working with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Tennessee created the Early Literacy Network, which is focused on improving early literacy and developing a sustainable process for enacting and sharing practices.
  • The Hawaii State Board of Education considered networked improvement communities as part of its ESSA plan submission.
  • Vermont and Minnesota have both set up statewide teams to encourage and support networked improvement efforts through stakeholder engagement and technical assistance.
  • The Michigan State Board of Education collected feedback from many stakeholders to aid in the design of its Top 10 in 10 Year. They will “use evidence and data to correct course and continue with progress on key goals.” A first focus for the state’s networked improvement community is closing the math achievement gap.
  • The California State Board of Education is authorized to study the educational conditions and needs of the state and plan improvement of the administration and efficiency of public schools. It approves plans focused on networked community improvement.

“As more and more schools, districts, and states embrace disciplined school improvement methods, the capacity to learn from failures can be scaled statewide,” writes author Gary Colletti. “States in which network participants both implement change and study how they did so can effectively reframe failures into powerful agents of learning.”

Read and share the NASBE policy update “State Role in Incubating School Improvement Networks.”

NASBE is the only national organization giving voice and adding value to the nation’s state boards of education. A nonprofit organization founded in 1958, NASBE works to strengthen state leadership in educational policymaking, promote excellence in the education of all students, advocate equality of access to educational opportunity, and ensure continued citizen support for public education. Learn more at


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