In the policy brief, Governing Change? Considerations for Education Policymakers, the Rennie Center examines models of education governance in other states and draws out lessons to help inform policy discussions in Massachusetts.
In 2007, the commonwealth had three divisions within the public education sector: the Department of Early Education and Care, the Department of Education, and the Board of Higher Education. The rationale for better integrating these divisions is that if public education is to be a seamless process that starts in pre-school and terminates at the post-secondary level, then the system might be more efficiently and effectively governed by a single, unified structure. While there is growing interest in creating an integrated governance structure, there is also concern. However appealing the benefits seem, the challenges, substantive and political, of dismantling the current bureaucracy and assembling a new system are significant.
The report presents case studies of four states that have engaged in the process of designing education governance systems that stretch from pre-school through graduate school and draws implications for consideration by Massachusetts policymakers.
Considerations for Policymakers
As policymakers contemplate changing the way education is governed in Massachusetts, this policy brief presents the following questions:
- What does the commonwealth hope to accomplish by changing to a P-20 governance structure?
- Who will be responsible for what? What will collaboration look like? How will the governance structure support collaboration and coordination between sectors?
- How will the commonwealth determine whether its new governance system has led to improvements in the quality of education in the early childhood, K-12 and postsecondary sectors?
When addressing these questions, this brief focuses on four areas of education policy that would require reform: (1) alignment of standards, curriculum and assessment; (2) data systems; (3) finance; and (4) accountability. Using these four policy areas as illustrations, we examine the potential of an integrated system and what ideal practices might look like in each area.
The policy brief was the subject of discussion at a public event on Friday, April 27, 2007 at the Omni Parker House Hotel.