Using school accountability systems and other metrics, all states identify the lowest-performing schools for more intensive improvement strategies. Improvement strategies can include forms of alternative governance of the school, often referred to as turnaround strategies. States may also require low-performing schools to develop a school improvement plan, which may be based on a needs assessment (an evaluation of the school’s strengths and weaknesses). When schools do not meet their improvement goals, more rigorous interventions may be required.
Education Commission of the States researched K-12 school improvement in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to provide this comprehensive resource. This resource provides information identified in statute, regulation and states’ plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as of December 2018. This resource does not include state education agency resources — such as guidelines or handbooks — or other sources outside of statutes, regulations and ESSA plans.
Click on the school improvement area below for 50-State Comparisons showing how all states approach policies in that area. View a specific state’s approach by going to the individual state profiles page.
1. Improvement Categories: includes the names of categories for improvement identified in state policies and ESSA plans and the criteria for entering and exiting those categories.
2. Plans and Needs Assessment: includes whether improvement plans or needs assessments are required in policies or ESSA plans; the contents of those plans and needs assessments, if specified; and any identified participants in the plan or needs assessment process.
3. Strategies: includes types of strategies for improvement identified in state policies and ESSA plans.
These strategies may be required or permitted and are not exhaustive. Note that in many states strategies are differentiated based on improvement category or level of support required, but this differentiation is not noted here.
4. Alternative Governance: includes the criteria for entering and exiting alternative governance and a description of the alternative governance strategies identified in state policies and ESSA plans.
5. State Responsibilities/Supports: includes state responsibilities and supports for school improvement that are explicitly specified in state policies and ESSA plans.
These state responsibilities and supports may be required or permitted and are not exhaustive. Note that in many states, state-level responsibilities or supports are differentiated based on improvement category or level of support required, but this differentiation is not noted here.
6. More Rigorous Interventions: includes the criteria for entering and exiting more rigorous interventions and a description of the more rigorous interventions/strategies provided in state policies or ESSA plans.
- Guiding Questions for State School Improvement Efforts
- 50-State Comparison: States’ School Accountability Systems
- Emerging State Turnaround Strategies
PUBLISHED: April 10, 2019
RESOURCE TYPE: 50-State Comparison