Module 7: State Support System for Identified Schools

Evaluating State Accountability Systems Under ESEA

This webpage is part of the Evaluating State Accountability Systems Under ESEA tool, which is designed to help state educational agency (SEA) staff reflect on how the state’s accountability system achieves its intended purposes and build confidence in the state’s accountability system design decisions and implementation activities. Please visit the tool landing page to learn more about this tool and how to navigate these modules.

All states have developed or revised their state’s accountability systems in response to requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). A state’s accountability system includes multiple indicators, each of which illuminates a different facet of school performance. These results are used to identify schools that need support; help direct support to improve outcomes for all students; and communicate performance to parents, advocates, and the community. And ultimately, these actions are intended to improve student outcomes.1

For the ultimate purpose of accountability policy to be fulfilled, it is best for school identification processes to be connected with supports that enable the lowest-performing schools to improve. ESEA as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) included requirements around state supports for identified schools. ESEA as amended by ESSA, however, does not include any statutory requirements around state systems of support for identified schools. Regardless, it is still important for SEAs to consider what supports identified schools will need to succeed. In this module, the state support system refers to any systems or structures within the SEA for supporting identified schools.

Under ESEA, schools identified for comprehensive support and improvement (CSI), targeted support and improvement (TSI), or additional targeted support and improvement (ATSI) receive technical assistance and resources to promote and accelerate improvement. Each state may allocate funds to districts with CSI and TSI schools, provide technical assistance to districts serving a high concentration of CSI and TSI schools, and require “more rigorous state-determined actions” in schools that do not exit CSI status in a timely manner (ESEA §1111(d)(3)). Each state also periodically reviews resource allocation to support school improvement in local educational agencies (LEAs) in the state serving a significant number or percentage of schools identified for CSI or TSI. States have built on longstanding systems2 to provide meaningful assistance to struggling districts and schools through a comprehensive system of technical assistance and support.

This module can help stimulate reflections and internal SEA discussions regarding how the system design is likely to build local capacity, improve instruction and student support, and improve student outcomes. SEA staff can use this module to do the following:

  • Critically assess the clarity of roles and responsibilities.
  • Assess the extent to which supports are sufficiently coherent, intense, stable, and aligned to school needs
  • Determine whether a formal evaluation is appropriate.

This module includes two sets of self-reflection prompts that are intended to support your description and reflection on the state support system. These sets of prompts are not intended to be discrete; instead, they are intended to work together to help you answer questions in the next sections of this module.

Table 1. Overview of Module 7:State Support System for Identified Schools

Section What is it? Why is it important? How should it be used?
Articulate the Rationale for the State Support System for Identified Schools A description of the components of the state support system, the principles anchoring the approach, and the processes through which schools and districts are expected to enact change This message can be used as an anchor for multiple audiences to describe the “what” and “why” behind the state support system. The rationale for the state support system asks you to describe the expected policy objective, behavioral intent, and expected results associated with the state supports. This rationale can be used as an anchor when reflecting on whether the system is implemented and perceived as intended. This will also help you, in the next section, assess the strength of the rationale.
Confidence in Design and Operations of State Support System for Identified Schools Based on your description of the theory of action, an examination of your level of confidence that theoretical linkages are sound and evidence supports your assumptions Determining your overall confidence in the soundness of the theory of action can help you determine where to collect evidence, make system revisions, or develop outreach materials. The confidence in operations and results section will help you identify potential evidence that can help confirm your rationale regarding how the system components and actors interact with and support school stakeholders. The rationale can also be used as a point of comparison for design decisions, and the strength of rationale can be used to focus attention on key confidence claims.

To get started, click on the link below:

[Begin Module 7: State Support System for Identified Schools]

1 For more information on accountability system design and implementation, please see An Introduction to Accountability Implementation: A Preface to the Operations, Performance Standards, and Evaluation Resources (link is external) from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Please note: The inclusion of links to resources and examples do not reflect their importance, nor is it intended to represent or be an endorsement by the Department of any views expressed, or materials provided. The U.S. Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of any outside information included in this document. [Back]

2 Including statewide systems of support developed under ESEA as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). [Back]

Module 7: State Support System for Identified Schools