'Policy Barriers to School Improvement: What's Real and What's Imagined?'

'Policy Barriers to School Improvement: What's Real and What's Imagined?'

Despite promising reforms that would give principals more autonomy to improve student learning, some district and state restrictions on resource allocation still pose barriers to school redesign, a report from the finds. Based on interviews with principals in three states, the report, (16 pages, PDF), found that while more than two-thirds of the 128 policy barriers the principals cited did not exist in writing or could be circumvented — with waivers, superintendent overrides, or permission through the consent of teachers — nearly one-third were immovable statutes, policies, or managerial directives embedded in centralized budgeting systems, categorical funding, and employment requirements originating from an understandable desire to check corruption, protect the interests of minority groups, and establish minimum quality standards. Funded by the , the report argues that true school autonomy and innovation cannot occur without changes in restrictive state and district policy, combined with investments in principal education programs, development of a principals network, and training in budgeting systems.