When school districts are unable to effectively educate students, state departments of education are faced with the challenge of taking responsibility. Yet many state educational agencies have limited capacity to address the many complex issues involved in state-to-district assistance. The Community Training and Assistance Center (CTAC) has the expertise and leadership experience to help states create and implement effective strategies for change that lead to positive outcomes.

National Expertise in State-to-District Interventions

CTAC is a national leader in the practice and research of state-to-district intervention. CTAC has provided technical assistance within state-to-district interventions in states ranging from New Jersey to Ohio to California—all of which increased student achievement. We have trained leadership teams from more than 40 states on state-to-district interventions; and regularly serve as a policy resource to state legislatures and the U.S. Congress.

Providing state-to-district assistance requires integrating educational, organizational, and political levers to ensure sustained student improvement. We assist state educational agencies (SEAs) to understand and effectively use three key levers for change:

CTAC assists state educational interventions by helping clarify the purpose of the intervention, calling attention to critical steps in diagnosis, changing the focus from “adopting models” to “changing systems,” and focusing on standards and assessment data that provide a foundation for change. CTAC strengthens SEAs and evaluates progress in student achievement, organizational change, and community capacity. We help SEAs:

  • Diagnose the readiness and capacity of both the district and community
  • Establish goals that effect a balance between rigor and realism
  • Use the school site as the locus for parent and grassroots community involvement
  • Make the district improvement plan an evolving reference document
The complexity of state-to-district intervention creates strains on and reveals gaps in the service delivery capabilities of state education departments. CTAC helps state agencies overcome these challenges and more effectively mobilize their resources to build the foundation for educational improvements. We help SEAs:

  • Overcome organizational “silos” to enable a concerted, focused effort that positively impacts the district
  • Balance ambitious objectives with organizational realities
  • Develop mechanisms for making informed mid-course corrections
The political dimensions of a state-to-district intervention are often the most publicly visible, as people make judgments about the underperforming district and state education overall. CTAC helps state agencies address these challenges by supporting and strengthening functions that are critical to successful intervention. We help SEAs:

  • Tap the power of convening as a core part of intervention
  • Build constituent support and buy-in
  • Create communications strategies that are vigilant and multi-tiered
  • Establish exit strategies with clearly defined objectives and milestones

Results-Proven Approach

  • CTAC engages representative voices to set the strategic direction. An emphasis on relationships distinguishes our approach. We incorporate student, family, educator, and key stakeholder voices in all phases, ensuring a constituency for change.
  • CTAC places learning at the core of every decision. CTAC believes that a well-designed school and district prioritizes the academic experience and learning of each student and focuses on quality instruction.
  • CTAC uses a top-down, bottom-up approach. Schools exist in the context of their district. Effective districts have the ability to steer schools to make a difference in student learning while simultaneously learning from schools to inform and drive the district agenda. Our approach fosters healthy, two-way communication and maximizes the ability of the system to function effectively and systematically on behalf of student learning.


Signature Partnership
Our extensive experience and evidence collected from the field inform our approach to state-to-district assistance. Bill Slotnik, CEO of CTAC, and Ken Wong, Director of Brown University’s Urban Education Policy Program, have joined to create the Consortium for State-to-District Assistance. The consortium combines two of the nation’s leaders in state-to-district partnership to provide the expertise and leadership experience needed to successfully implement and sustain change. The Consortium’s members have both considerable field-based expertise and on-the-ground successful experience working with district executive leadership throughout the country.
See additional examples of our experience