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Volume 26, Number 6
November/December 2010

“Delivering” School Reform

Teaching state education agencies the neglected art of implementation


Beyond the delightful British accent and amusing Tony Blair anecdotes tucked into his presentation, Sir Michael Barber wasn’t saying anything particularly new when he told a roomful of education officials meeting in Cambridge, Mass. last month that now might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make dramatic improvements in the United States’ public education system. What was different was that Barber and his team had just presented a detailed system mapping how to get big changes accomplished—a step-by-step guide from goal to reality.

Listening attentively were teams from seven state education agencies, including five recent Race To The Top (RTTT) winners—all under tremendous pressure to make good on expansive promises they’d made in their grant applications. The roomful of officials gave Barber a standing ovation at the end of the four-day conference.

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