How districts are managed

Movements over the past few decades to improve students’ educational outcomes have led districts to try out different approaches to organize and manage their work. Families, in turn, have taken on different roles in these new structures. A new policy brief from the National Education Policy Center identifies four different types of systems:

  • Managerial systems: Central offices have the primary responsibility for establishing instructional norms across the district.
  • Market-driven systems: Schools have different approaches, and families choose the school that aligns with their preferences.
  • Federated systems: Schools develop their own approaches within parameters set by central offices.
  • Networked systems: Schools within the districts share a common approach developed in collaboration with schools.

The brief delineates how responsibilities are distributed within these four district types and explores how families, communities, and states interact with those systems.

Source: Peurach, D.J. & Yurkofsky, M. (2018). Organizing and managing instruction in U.S. public school districts: Considerations for families, communities, and states. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center.

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