Limited Capacity at the State Level: A Threat to Future School Improvement

June 2011

To better understand the role of state government in education reform, this study identifies key functions performed by state education agencies (SEAs) and estimates the relative level of resources devoted to each activity. The study finds that although states have invested substantial resources in monitoring school performance, they have contributed only modest resources to improving failing schools. Given the federal government’s expectation that states take a more active role in improving failing schools, a capacity shortage could prove problematic. The study also explores ways in which SEAs could free up resources in order to build school improvement capacity.