Could Intermediate Education Agencies Rise to a New Challenge?

By ann-old

The COVID-19 pandemic could bring a new purpose for an old concept in delivering education services

An intermediate school unit (sometimes called Education Service Agencies) works with local school districts to coordinate and collaborate shared services to benefit students. These agencies present an opportunity for schools that need to share resources – such as professional development, apprenticeship programs, and mental health services. 

As school districts deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Learning First Alliance examined their roles to determine if they could better assist schools as they manage issues related to reopening. We know that school leaders will be challenged to reopen their buildings and keep their building operating in the midst of any subsequent outbreaks.

There are many different types of units.  Not surprising is that the most effective are those with a clear purpose that is matched to their resources.  Those that are ineffective are the ones that try to cover a wide and disparate range of initiatives.

Even in their behind-the-scenes work, some intermediate units have been instrumental in taking leadership roles on key issues and bringing together partnerships that will be needed when schools reopen. In the immediate future, these units could be structured by local schools to help coordinate services from cleaning buses and classrooms to community mental health services for students and staff experiencing trauma. This paper outlines the many types of intermediate school units and the roles they play in their respective states.  

Learn more about the many types and their roles in this literature review.