Centers of Support: Assessing the U.S. Department of Education's Technical Assistance Program for ESEA Implementation

The Comprehensive Technical Assistance Centers are charged with providing states with support in implementing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. A recent report from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences, National Evaluation of the Comprehensive Technical Assistance Centers, has found that the Comprehensive Centers have been effective in helping state education agencies build capacity for school improvement.

Knowledge Alliance and SEDL recently hosted a webinar to provide policy makers, education leaders, and the media with an overview of the effectiveness and significance of the Comprehensive Centers. A recording of this webinar is available online.

Webinar Overview

Moderator: Judy Wurtzel, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development for the U.S. Department of Education

Presenter: Brenda J. Turnbull, Principal, Policy Study Associates and author of the National Evaluation of the Comprehensive Technical Assistance Centers

Discussants: State officials from Alabama, Minnesota, and Montana and director of the Southeast Comprehensive Center

Background

The Comprehensive Technical Assistance Centers is a federally funded program that provides technical assistance to states in connection with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The law authorizing the Centers, the Educational Technical Assistance Act of 2002, mandated that a national evaluation of the program be conducted by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The legislation indicated that the evaluation should "include an analysis of the services provided . . . and whether such services meet the educational needs of State educational agencies, local educational agencies, and schools in the region." With the redesign of the Center program, the primary focus of technical assistance was directed to states. In order to build states' capacity for carrying out NCLB responsibilities, which include assistance to struggling school districts and schools as well as other areas of NCLB program administration, the Center program was designed to provide ongoing technical assistance in using research knowledge and promising practices.