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Creating Balanced and Flexible Systems of Decision Making

State education agencies face intense challenges amid increased global competition, magnified by the pressures of federal regulations. One of a state education agency’s responsibility is ensuring that districts comply with federal legislation, such as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which has given more autonomy and flexibility to states to manage their own schools. State education agencies also manage the performance of schools, requiring them to construct accountability plans and execute performance management systems that allow them to identify low-performing schools. Due to this shift, state leaders across the country are shifting from a focus on compliance toward a focus on continuous improvement, to support local efforts to redesign K–12 education around student-centered learning. A balance of authority and flexibility is required to ensure alignment of new educational practices and policies that support the modernization of K–12 education, bringing about more innovative policies and practices to support twenty-first-century teaching and learning.