An education agency is an entity that oversees the instruction and educational services of students in a particular setting, such as a geographical area. A local education agency is sometimes known as a school district, but other organizations may also be considered education agencies. These agencies may audit individual schools, set budgets, and serve as a resource for parents who may have disputes with a school or a particular educational policy.
In its broadest sense, an education agency may be a national-level authority. These organizations are responsible for setting standards for an entire country. These standards are usually minimums that must be met, with local groups able to fine tune those requirements, making them more stringent as necessary. These agencies may also be responsible for setting funding each school district receives, at least to a certain extent.
Some states have regional education agencies that provide support services to local school districts. An education agency, in this sense, is usually located in a central area, and provides resources that many local districts could not afford on their own. This is especially important in rural states, where the tax revenue and student numbers cannot support specialized equipment and services in each district. For example, a regional education agency may be responsible for special education services and academic testing. These agencies may also serve as regional appeal boards when parents have issues with a decision a local school district has made.
In some cases, a school district itself may be referred to as an education agency. Individual districts are responsible for the operation of elementary, middle, and high schools. Many may also be responsible for special education programs, such as schools for those with developmental disabilities or troubled youths. These types of educational agencies are usually lead by a superintendent, who must answer to a local board of directors. Those directors are often elected, and may directly control the purse strings for available funding.
The funding for these agencies may come from a variety of sources. An education agency may have the power to levy local property taxes, which can make up a great percentage of the funding. Most agencies also receive money from state and federal sources, either directly or indirectly. For example, the federal government may provide money for the state to distribute locally.
No matter what level a particular agency may be, the main goal is to educate students to the best of the students' abilities. While not all students can succeed at the same level, an education agency can help provide some of the tools that are required to give those students the best education opportunity possible. To do this, the agency must not only set policies for the student body as a whole, but also look at individual cases and work closely with parents, teachers, and school adminitrators.