Chief State School Officers

About Chief State School Officers

Chief State School Officers (CSSOs) lead statewide public education systems. Major leverage points include:

  • Make improvements in the education workforce and promote teacher effectiveness to enhance quality in the classroom.
  • Rather than just extract information, help states provide schools with meaningful information to help drive and guide improvement.
  • Streamline common standards for what every child should be able to do upon graduation and common assessments that award demonstration of learning rather than fact-based.
  • Engage education at different levels in the state, especially regarding transformation and turnaround of schools that historically have struggled.
  • Leverage new types of funds and assets and use them collectively and strategically.

Key Information

  • In many states CSSOs are elected or appointed by state boards or governors, so electoral cycles heavily influence and impact CSSOs.
  • From the most recent electoral cycle, there are currently 20 new CSSOs. Likewise, the political element to the positions causes high amounts and rates of turnover—the average CSSO tenure is less than three years.

Strategies to Engage Chief State School Officers

  • To successfully engage CSSOs, networks must leverage their strengths. For example, networks frequently utilize new types of assets to do their work, which are often aligned to the vision and agenda of the CSSOs.
  • It is important for networks to know the political context of how CSSOs are chosen because this can determine their professional agenda and whom they are accountable to. By understanding the political context, networks can be more proactive about aligning their work with CSSO goals.