In the fall of 2014, the U.S. Department of Education created the Office of School Support (OSS) and gave it a broad mandate: To monitor how states are carrying out federal grants and other contracts under Title I programs for low-income and homeless students, Title III programs for English learners, School Improvement Grants, flexibility under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and other grants and contracts.
To help OSS accomplish its mission, Synergy is collaborating with OSS staff on annual grantee site visits over a 4-year period. We are building online compliance and monitoring tools to allow ED to collect and analyze grantee data via a secure web portal. We also are helping the OSS program staff build communities of practice—through face-to-face and online meetings—that will collaborate to address poverty in education, share best practices for school reform, and discuss issues arising from Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility. To further advance the work of OSS, we are offering peer-to-peer technical assistance for educators in 10 states. Synergy also is organizing annual technical assistance forums on the impact of poverty on education, exploring topics such as ESEA flexibility, family engagement, and school turnaround.
Building on our support for monitoring and meetings, Synergy supports ED in collecting, publishing, and disseminating information on promising practices, evaluation tools, and policy. To reach people in the field, we are partnering with OSS to build a technical assistance and knowledge management website with rich e-learning toolkits and resources, and promoting it within the agency and among state education agencies (SEAs). Our writers and editors are developing an editorial style guide for the new office and our graphic designers are creating visuals that will help brand it among audiences. We also are providing administrative and logistical support for quarterly and rolling peer reviews of state progress on topics such as standards and assessments and ESEA flexibility.