Gubernatorial Education Policy Transition Memo


The gubernatorial education policy transition memo and executive summary entitled “Leveraging Transition: Ten Ways for New Governors to Advance Education Policies and Priorities from Day One” were developed in partnership with EducationCounsel. The memo, titled “Leveraging Transition: Ten Ways for New Governors to Advance Education Policies and Priorities from Day One,” provides advice and identifies opportunities, approaches, and questions to consider as governors and their staff are working to develop and advance their education policies and priorities. While we know that each state’s context is different, we hope that these documents will help provide governors and their staff with a framework for how to approach education policy in their state, and how NGA and the Education Division can best support their efforts.

Introduction and Background

The 2018 election cycle resulted in new governors in 20 states and two territories. The large class of new governors will have further ripple effects as new governors in many states appoint new chief state school officers, state board of education members and other state education leaders. Each new governor now embarks on a rapid transition process — from election to inauguration to the first 100 days in office and beyond. Each new governor’s transition period provides a critical window of opportunity to advance education policies and priorities in their states.

Providing access to high-quality education is a critical state responsibility. While each state’s context and governance structures are different, every governor has a unique, leading role to play in improving education in his/her state. This is particularly important considering the passage of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA), which transferred more education authority from the federal government back to state and local governments.

This executive summary is intended to provide initial guidance to new governors and state education teams on ways to approach this critical transition period in their states, how to best advance their education priorities and how the National Governors Association’s (NGA) Center for Best Practices’ Education Division and its partners can best support their efforts. Based on lessons learned from prior gubernatorial, state and national education transitions, we have identified ten opportunities for action that governors and their teams can consider to maximize the potential of the transition period and further their education priorities. These opportunities, while listed in a somewhat linear order, are inherently overlapping in nature and should ideally be pursued simultaneously to inform and build on each other.

Ten Opportunities for Action in education

  1. Establish as a clear priority for state action
  2. Set the education vision
  3. Education leadership appointments
  4. Engage key education stakeholders
  5. Analyze state context
  6. Review state education agencies and programs
  7. Review research and lessons from the field
  8. Identify and develop initial education policy priorities
  9. Identify key partners and resources
  10. Leave room and plan for continuous improvement

Keys to Success in Education Transitions

  • — Communication
  • — Capacity
  • — Continuity


Gubernatorial transitions are moments of tremendous excitement and activity, and also provide multiple opportunities for action to advance a vision of a high-quality education for all students. However, given the many competing priorities at play during the transition process, it is important to act quickly and intentionally. Based on key learnings from past transition efforts across the country, this memo highlights ten opportunities for action that can help guide the education transition toward success. The Education Division looks forward to working with new governors and their staffs to develop an advance education policies and priorities.