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US Department of Education Principal Office Functional Statements
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

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Office of State Support

The Office of State Support (OSS) administers programs of financial assistance to State and local education agencies and to colleges and universities. Under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, OSS administers several Title I programs of supplementary instruction and other services.  This includes the Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies, ESEA flexibility, and the School Improvement Grants program authorized in section 1003(g) of Title I.  Under Title II, Part A of the ESEA, OSS administers the Improving Teacher Quality State Grants.  Under Title III of the ESEA, OSS administers the State Formula Grant Program for English Language Acquisition and Language Enhancement.  OSS administers the State Assessment Grant and Enhanced State Assessment Grant programs authorized in section 6111 of ESEA.  OSS is responsible for administering two programs, authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, abbreviated ARRA (P.L. 111-5) and by H.R. 1586, which include the State Incentive Grants under the State Fiscal Stabilization Funds, known as the “Race to the Top” Program, and the Race to the Top Assessment Program.  OSS also administers the Comprehensive Centers, including regional centers and content centers, as authorized under the Education Technical Assistance Act of 2002, Section 203.

These programs provide financial assistance to local and State education agencies (SEA) and other organizations and institutions to support supplemental services for children in high poverty schools, limited English proficient children, as well as children enrolled in schools managed by the Bureau of Indian Education and tribal grant schools.  The programs are designed to meet the special education needs of such children and to aid in their teachers' continued professional development to enable these children to achieve the State's high, challenging academic content and performance standards expected of all children attending public elementary and secondary schools. 

These programs also provide financial assistance to improve the lowest performing schools; adopt assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy; recruit, develop, reward, and retain effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and provide and coordinate technical assistance that helps SEAs work effectively with their districts, schools, and teachers to ensure that all students receive a high-quality education. 

OSS is organized specifically to provide high quality performance management and support to SEAs in administering and leveraging the grant programs above, focusing on the SEAs’ quality of implementation while continually reducing the burden of the Department’s necessary stewardship and compliance role. 

OSS is headed by a Director, who reports to the Assistant Secretary and/or respective Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and advises the Assistant Secretary and/or Deputy Assistant Secretary on matters related to the programs administered by OSS. The Director promotes cooperative efforts among various governmental and community officials and groups and establishes cooperative working relationships across the principal operating components within the Department to support the effective implementation of these programs. Deputy Directors assist the Director in the work of OSS.

The Immediate Office of the Director for OSS is directly responsible for the oversight of all programs administered by OSS and for the administrative and management functions that support all units in OSS.  Staff members, who report directly to the Director, have the primary responsibility for such administrative and management functions that include the general coordination of work within OSS's state support groups and functional support teams.  The work of this unit also includes the responsibility for logging in and tracking incoming correspondence, maintaining a file of all correspondence that is issued by OSS, and updating OSS’s section of the Department’s website.  The Director's Office is ultimately responsible for the development and clearance of all letters and reports issued by OSS.  It is also responsible for carrying out special initiatives and projects to ensure the law is implemented in a manner that results in success in school for every child.

In addition to the work carried out by the Director’s Immediate Office, OSS participates in legislation development, prepares information for budget appropriations, allocates funds and issues grant awards for the programs it administers, analyzes and processes waiver requests of program requirements submitted by States and LEAs, prepares and tracks program performance indicators, coordinates programmatic activities with other principal offices within the Department and with other agencies, and responds to inquiries from Congress, the press, and organizations regarding the programs OSS administers.

OSS is divided into two divisions and utilizes a matrix organizational structure and matrix management approach.  Deputy Directors leads each division.

State Support Group Division

The State Support Group (SSG) Division includes up to six groups and two Deputy Directors.  Each Deputy Director manages three groups.  A supervisory Group Leader leads each State Support Group.  Approximately nine State Support Teams, which are designed to improve OESE’s capacity to address a major Departmental priority of providing more transparent, higher quality, and better-differentiated support to SEAs based on each state’s needs and performance, are operated in each group.  The State Support Teams will enable OSS to better align and coordinate the policy and financial resources associated with major state-administered grant programs; provide a better balance between grantee capacity building and compliance with grant requirements; and support the implementation of education reforms that ensure all students graduate from high school college and career ready.  All of the State Support Teams in the six groups are charged with the same set of responsibilities that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Serve as the primary point of contact to a State(s) for all grant programs and initiatives administered by OSS.
  • Develop and maintain in-depth knowledge of each State’s education reform agenda, key actors, political context, SEA capacity, and SEA performance (both past and current).
  • Develop and maintain an understanding of the goals and requirements of each federal-funded grant program being administered by OSS.
  • Develop and maintain an understanding of key educational subject matter (e.g., assessments, accountability systems, school turnaround) and operational competencies (e.g., performance management, effective communication) related to the work of OSS.
  • Collect and maintain State Implementation Plans and provide technical assistance to States to support the submission of high quality plans .
  • Develop and maintain Annual State Performance Plans, using a case management system, that are aligned with each State’s Implementation Plan.
  • Review amendments to State Implementation Plans, and recommend approval or denial.
  • Provide on-going technical assistance to assigned States (share best practices, offer strategies for improving the quality of implementation, answer questions in keeping with established written guidance, coordinate opportunities for professional learning, facilitate problem-solving conversations, disseminate ED documents, refer to major federally funded technical assistance resources, as well as other States via a community of practitioners.
  • Implement performance review procedures, including but not limited to differentiating support and routines for individual State contexts; problem-solving policy issues; reviewing applications; establishing grant conditions; evaluating the quality of implementation; requesting performance data and reports; closing corrective actions; conduct risk assessments; quarterly check-in; conducting desk and onsite integrated program reviews; performing fiscal monitoring; reviewing G5 data, performance data, program evaluations, audits, state web-sites/reports, and news media.
  • Track and document State performance through a knowledge management system, including internal and public-facing reports assessing progress and the quality of State implementation of its reform agenda. 
  • Review performance data for completeness, quality, and to inform State progress and performance review routines, as submitted via EDFacts and other data collections.
  • Provide briefings and information to office, senior leadership, and other Department programs on the status and issues related to State performance.
  • Maintain records in G5 and other systems to update status of State implementation and support needs.
  • Implement communication and coordination norms and procedures to ensure consistency of OSS practices across the States and within offices.
  • Evaluate and continuously improve processes and outcomes based on quality, utility, and efficiency metrics.

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Functional Support Team Division

The Functional Support Group Division includes five teams and is led by a Deputy Director.  A supervisory Team Leader leads each Functional Support Team.  Four of the five functional support teams are designed to lead the internal development of methods to better serve SEAs in four core grant administration functions – policy development and alignment, technical assistance, performance review, and data analysis and transparency.  A fifth functional support team will be created to support OSS’s efforts to help States implement the next generation of student assessment systems and to hold LEAs and schools accountable for the academic progress of their students.  The responsibilities of each Functional Support Team include, but are not limited to, the following:

Policy Development and Alignment Functional Support Team

  • Use program implementation and outcome data to engage in policy analysis in order to bring forth policy options and recommend decisions.
  • Conduct outreach, focus groups, and meetings with key internal and external stakeholder groups in the development of policy options and recommendations.
  • Track and communicate Federal and State legislative initiatives to support information sharing about what is going on in the field.  
  • Include the participation of technical and content experts, in addition to other SSG staff and other POC, in policy development activities and deliberations.
  • Develop Regulations, Non-Regulatory Guidance, Policy Letters, FAQs, and Memorandums to Chief State School Officers to support policy implementation.
  • Lead the internal and external policy clearance process to assist with timely dissemination of information. 
  • Conduct policy alignment reviews to ensure the proper articulation of ED priorities and OSS grant program policies across program in OSS and programs in other offices and develop and implement communication and coordination norms and procedures to ensure consistency of policy across programs.
  • Develop and maintain a transparent tracking system that enables Leadership Team and Program Officers to know the status of policy decisions on standard timeline.
  • Develop and maintain knowledge management system that makes Regulations, Non-Regulatory Guidance, Policy Letters, FAQs, calendars, and other resources readily accessible to Program Officers.
  • Serve as a resource to Program Officers on a state specific issue to support the implementation of policy (e.g., grant conditions, new policy questions, matters that might require general counsel).
  • Support the development of Program Officers on policy analysis, Regulations, Non-Regulatory Guidance, Policy Letters, and Memorandums to Chief State School Officers and other grantees.
  • Develop and implement communication and coordination norms and procedures to ensure consistency of policy decisions and application across the States.
  • Evaluate and continuously improve processes and outcomes based on quality, utility, and efficiency metrics.
  • Develop processes, tools, templates and resources to support States and Program Officers with the implementation of policy.
  • Design and coordinate necessary and required peer review processes.
  • Provide briefings and information to office and senior leadership on the status and issues related to policy.

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Technical Assistance Functional Support Team

  • Track, compile, and assess technical assistance needs of States, using data where possible, of individual States, as well as needs common to groups of States and all States.
  • Coordinate  the participation of technical and content experts, including staff in other principal offices in the Department, in addition to other SSG staff, in technical assistance planning and activities.
  • Identify and share, both internally and externally, proven and promising practices from the field.
  • Develop in-house technical assistance products for Program Officers to use with States (e.g., consulting tools, training materials, webinars, links to best practice information).
  • Coordinate the development, tracking, and utilization of TA Resources (e.g., Regional Education Laboratories, Comprehensive Centers, Community of Practitioner systems). 
  • Develop and maintain knowledge management system that makes research, best practices, and other technical assistance resources readily accessible to Program Officers.
  • Work with SSG, CORs/contractors, and ED logistics team to develop and coordinate conferences, meetings, and training events for States that are sponsored by the office.
  • Develop and execute a comprehensive annual technical assistance plan in collaboration with other principal offices and technical assistance activities with other relevant Principal Offices.
  • Coordinate the provision of direct technical assistance to States on particularly complex/technical problems deciding when third-party assistance may be more productive than OSS helping a State.
  • Evaluate the quality, relevance, and utility of technical assistance provided by OSS.
  • Support the development of Program Officers on how to identify SEA technical assistance needs, the relevant technical assistance resources, and best and promising practices via training and assignments to the Technical Assistance Functional Support Team.
  • Serve as the in-office lead for the continual development of professional staff in key technical and content areas, coordinating with other Functional Support Teams and ensuring staff development is high quality and job-embedded for all program processes.
  • Provide briefings and information to office and senior leadership on the status and issues related to technical assistance plans.
  • Develop and implement communication and coordination norms and procedures to ensure consistency of technical assistance practices across the States.
  • Evaluate and continuously improve processes and outcomes based on quality, utility, and efficiency metrics.
  • Lead and manage the discretionary grant process for the ED funded Comprehensive Centers.
  • Support the grant making, oversight, and day to day management of the ED funded Comprehensive Centers.

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Performance Review Functional Support Team

  • Define and establish the performance management system that the SSG will use with SEAs to provide transparent, high quality, and differentiated support.
  • Include the participation of technical and content experts, in addition to other SSG staff, in performance review activities and deliberations.
  • Develop template, process, and timeline for the development of State Implementation Plans.
  • Working with the SSG and the Technical Assistance Team, develop template, process, and timeline for the development of the Annual State Performance Support Plans.
  • In conjunction with the Data Analysis and Transparency Team, track, compile, and assess performance (progress, quality, and problems), using data where possible, of individual States, as well as problems common to groups of States and all States to help inform State information sharing and required risk-analysis.
  • Develop performance review plans and monitoring protocols (assessing results, quality of implementation, and compliance) for Program Officers to use with States (e.g., program review protocols, risk assessments, analysis of and follow-up on audit report, corrective action plans, financial management issues, and status reports on State implementation status), working with the SSG.
  • Design the template for the performance monitoring reports Program Officers will use to communicate to States and stakeholders the status of program implementation noting where the state is exceling and areas that require attention.
  • Produce analyses and reports (e.g., annual, highlight) on the performance status and issues of States in coordination with the Data & Transparency Team.
  • Support the development of Program Officers on procedures for program reviews, risk assessments, use of G5 data, status reporting on State implementation status via training and assignments to Performance Review Functional Support Team.
  • Coordinate with the Technical Assistance Functional Support Team in the professional development of office staff in key technical and content areas related to performance review.
  • Develop and implement communication and coordination norms and procedures to ensure consistency of technical assistance practices across the States.
  • Evaluate and continuously improve processes and outcomes based on quality, utility, and efficiency metrics.
  • Coordinate and lead the implementation of Leading Indicators across programs.
  • Help ensure the consistent application of findings and next steps across groups and states.

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Data Analysis and Transparency Functional Support Team

  • Define analytic and “evidence” agendas (e.g., profiles, case studies).
  • Include the participation of technical and content experts, in addition to other SSG staff, in data analysis and transparency activities and deliberations.
  • Develop logic models, GPRA measures, and leading indicators for the work of the State Teams.
  • In conjunction with the Performance Review Team, track, compile, and assess performance (progress, quality, and problems), using data where possible, of individual States, as well as problems common to groups of States and all States.
  • Produce analyses and reports (e.g., annual, highlight) on the performance status and issues of States in coordination with the Performance Review Team.
  • Design and update information collections (checking with ED’s data inventory) to minimize the data reporting burden on States.
  • Implement required data quality review procedures for demographic and performance data submitted by States via EDFacts.
  • Develop and implement data release activities with the OESE front office.
  • Manage the development and refinement of data definitions associated with the Title I accountability requirements, coordinating with the Assessment Team, to report these requirements in the annual Consolidated State Performance Report.
  • Establish processes to support, and perform or oversee, data analyses to support policy decisions, technical assistance plans, performance reviews, implementation status reporting, risk identification, Agency Priority Goal reporting, and other reports (e.g., annual, highlight) on the performance status and issues of States.
  • Work with PPSS and IES to design and implement major program evaluations and analyses that support transparency of State implementation status and results achieved to date. 
  • Support Program Officer use of information systems (e.g., G5, ED Data Express, GRADS 360) to use, manage, and maintain data.
  • Support the development of Program Officers on the use of data, status reporting on State implementation status via training and assignments to Policy Team projects.
  • Evaluate and continuously improve processes and outcomes based on quality, utility, and efficiency metrics.

Assessment Functional Support Team

  • Provide direct technical assistance to States, as well as specialized technical assistance through external experts for longer-term interventions for States with significant assessment and accountability issues. 
  • Coordinate the assessment peer review process for development and improvements to State assessment systems. 
  • Work with the Data Review and Transparency Team regarding the development and refinement of data definitions associated with the Title I accountability requirements for reporting these requirements in the annual Consolidated State Performance Report. 
  • Manage the Race to the Top Assessment discretionary grants.
  • Manage the process for awarding and overseeing the discretionary Enhanced Assessment Grants.

OSS is also responsible for working collaboratively with other OESE program offices and other principal operating components across the Department to develop strategies, guidance, and networks to support States, districts, and schools as they implement programs and initiatives focused on education reform, school improvement, and improved student achievement, and assisting States as they build their capacity to implement and sustain those education reforms and achieve continued improvement in student outcomes.

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Last Modified: 10/01/2014