The Aspen Institute Education & Society Program (Aspen Education) improves public education by inspiring, informing, and influencing education leaders across policy and practice, with an emphasis on achieving equity for traditionally underserved students.

Aspen Education supports leaders at all levels – from networks of urban superintendents and their teams, to state chiefs and their cabinets, to elected officials and their staffers. By providing venues for authentic learning and honest dialogue, and producing a range of resources and tools, Aspen Education assists education leaders in building, implementing, and continuously improving policy and practice.

Also from The Education & Society Program:

Teacher Evaluation and Support Systems: A Roadmap for Improvement

March 2016

As states assume more autonomy under the Every Student Succeeds Act, many are at a crossroads: They can retreat from their teacher evaluation policies, or take stock of their systems and refine them for the better. To support states in this work, the Aspen Education & Society Program has released a new report on teacher evaluation systems. The report synthesizes key findings from research, highlights best practices from states and districts across the country, and recommends practices that states and districts can incorporate into their evaluation and support systems to move them forward.

Engaging State Legislators: Lessons for the Education Sector

December 2015

This report distills the learnings from focus groups, in-depth interviews, and a two-day symposium with over 50 state legislative leaders and explores how they get their information, what matters most to them, and how groups that work with state legislators can engage them most effectively. As state legislators work to get education policy right, make sure you have the inside track on how they work and what they need to be effective.

The Complexity of Procurement for Instructional Materials

December 2015

Procurement is a complex, time-consuming process that burdens SEA staff and delays resources from getting into the hands of students, teachers, and staff. Learn more about this process and what it means for students in a new infographic from the Aspen Education & Society Program.

Where Does It All Go? Uses of Federal Education Funding

December 2015

This infographic shows how federal education funding works and the compliance requirements that states, districts, and schools must meet to receive it.

Roles and Responsibilities of the State Education Agency

December 2015

Roles and Responsibilities of the State Education Agency challenges state chiefs and their leadership teams to consider their local context and capacity in determining essential, possible, and unsuitable roles for their agency. Coming out of a period of historic state involvement in education policy, this discussion guide helps state leaders consider what roles and responsibilities they can realistically shoulder long-term.

State Education Policy Checklist

September 2015

This resource, co-developed with the Council of Chief State School Officers, Education Commission of the States, and the State Legislative Leaders Foundation, offers a clear framework for state legislators to aid the development of new education policies.


College- and Career-Ready Standards Benchmarking Implementation

June 2015

Co-developed with Achieve, these four tools can help state leaders to monitor implementation of their college- and career-ready standards.  

1. School-Level Indicators of Implementation
2. Model School-Level Indicators of Implementation Survey
3. Local Education Agency (LEA) Feedback Survey
4. Survey Guidance

Download the tools

Implementation of the Common Core State Standards: A Transition Guide for School-level Leaders

Built around seven indicators, this guide provides specific high-impact actions, measures, and tools so school leaders have an action planning springboard for implementing the CCSS.



Tools for Teachers: Professional Development Modules for Common Core ELA and Literacy

These six professional development modules are designed to meet the needs of teachers, schools, and districts working to make the key instructional shifts in the CCSS for ELA & Literacy. Each module comes with a PowerPoint presentation and facilitator's guide designed for PD instructors, as well as a suite of supplemental exemplars, worksheets, and other resources. Download the modules.

Teaching to the Core: Integrating Teacher Effectiveness and Common Core Policies

April 2013

To strengthen state implementation of Common Core State Standards and meaningful teacher evaluations, the Aspen Institute and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in this policy brief suggest ten actions to move beyond simply implementing ambitious reforms in parallel-- teacher evaluation and the Common Core-- to integrating them into a system-level whole. To do that, author and Aspen Education Program Executive Director Ross Wiener describes the linkages between implementation of Common Core and teacher effectiveness policies and offers practical suggestions to state leaders on how to ensure teachers are using strategies that engage students in learning at high levels.

Evaluating Evaluations: Using Teacher Surveys to Strengthen Implementation

April 2013

Public education is focused intensively on designing and implementing meaningful teacher evaluations. To convert evaluation information into more effective teaching, teachers, principals, and system leaders need to embrace a culture of ongoing, two-way feedback and a commitment to continuous improvement. Developed in partnership with The Parthenon Group, Evaluating Evaluations explains how teacher surveys can advance this work by engaging teachers, generating information on what’s working and what’s not, and supporting reciprocal accountability in education improvement efforts.

Download report

Beyond Buy-In: Partnering with Practitioners in Denver Public Schools

June 2013

This case study chronicles how Denver's teacher engagement approach to a new educator effectiveness system (Leading Effective Academic Practice, or LEAP) has delivered promising results, and how it can inform system leaders nationwide.

Read Ross Wiener's op-ed on Beyond Buy-In in the Huffington Post

Download report

The Common Core: A Flyer for Families

Spring 2013

The Common Core State Standards is a near-universal set of academic standards adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. It represents a paradigm shift in the teaching of English Language Arts and math, emphasizing deeper learning and application of knowledge. This flyer makes the Common Core accessible to families and other stakeholders, explaining what the standards are and why they are important for improving public education.

Download flyers in English or Spanish

Common Core Implementation: A Primer on Close Reading of Text

October 2012

To assist teachers in understanding and employing the Common Core instructional emphasis on close reading in the classroom, this primer addresses three key questions:

1. What is "close reading" of text, and what are its essential attributes?

2. What is the role of background knowledge in the development of reading comprehension, and when should teachers activate and/or provide background knowledge?

3. What should teachers and district leaders consider about close reading as they prepare to implement it in practice?

Download the primer

Watch a webinar from the authors

Common Core State Standards: What Will it Take For Our Students to Succeed?

October 9, 2012

To mark the release of new Common Core resources, the Aspen Institute Education & Society Program convened a panel of distinguished leaders of implementation to assess current efforts and outline priorities for the work ahead.

Panel: Sonja Brookins-Santelises, Chief Academic Officer, Baltimore City Public Schools; Michael Cohen, President, Achieve; and Dwight Davis, Classroom Teacher and Teach Plus Fellow, District of Columbia Public Schools.

Watch the panel video

Building It Together: The Design and Implementation of Hillsborough County Public Schools' Teacher Evaluation System

March 30, 2012

Hillsborough County Public Schools has launched a teacher evaluation system that has attracted attention from educators and policy makers across the country. Centralized, collaborative, communications-driven and adaptable are key characteristics of Hillsborough's approach. The system consists of two main components: observation of instruction and teachers' value-added scores, based on student test results.

Putting the Pieces in Place: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools' Teacher Evaluation System

March 30, 2012

The two top priorities in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools' Strategic Plan 2014 Teaching Our Way to the Top are: focusing on equitable instruction district-wide, and creating a performance-oriented culture based on continuous improvement and accountability for results.

Key Takeaways:

  • Target use of teacher performance data
  • Engage a broad group of stakeholders throughout the school, district, and community. Especially teachers.
  • Track implementation with monitoring, feedback surveys and other oversight
  • Build and adapt the system based on data collected
  • Shift the district's focus from managing the amount of money and services provided to schools to focusing on student achievement and graduation rate

See a complete list of our publications.