How can states, districts, and schools measure the success of their turnaround efforts? This report by Public Impact, in partnership with the Center on School Turnaround, offers a national model for defining and measuring turnaround success that can be adapted to fit local contexts, with an approach to measuring academic gains using state data, and recommendations for expanding the approach to include leading indicators and targets based on school priorities for “early wins.”
In this idea paper, Public Impact’s co-presidents, Emily Ayscue Hassel and Bryan C. Hassel, lay out a vision for how districts can reach dramatically more students with great principals, for much higher pay, within budget—giving principals a career path that keeps them connected to students and schools through Multi-School Leadership. The “leadership machine” is powered by teacher leadership: Accountable multi-classroom leaders co-lead instruction schoolwide with principals, and also earn more, and make it possible for great principals to extend their reach, too.
From 2010 to 2015, Tennessee’s charter sector grew from 29 schools serving 5,500 students to 98 schools and 29,000 students, including 24 multi-school networks operating in the state. This report describes how the convergence of favorable policy conditions, political leadership, and public-private grants accelerated the growth of high-quality charter schools committed to underserved communities in Memphis and Nashville. The report also examines strategies that the Tennessee Charter School Incubator and the Charter School Growth Fund used to identify and develop promising new school leaders and to start and expand high-performing charter organizations. The Tennessee story provides a lesson for education leaders in how to create the conditions conducive to growing a high-quality charter sector.
As the Opportunity Culture initiative was beginning, three principals signed on to lead low-performing, high-poverty schools in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Metropolitan Nashville districts. The odds were stacked against them and their students—one school, for example, has student transiency rates of 70 percent and higher.
But within a few short years, their schools all showed very high growth—one school was in the top 1 percent in North Carolina for growth, and the other two received the highest growth score possible in the Tennessee system, with one getting the highest level of growth in math in Nashville in grades three through eight.
At all three of these schools, the principals led a team of multi-classroom leaders (MCLs), excellent teachers who stay in the classroom and lead teaching teams. MCLs provide support through coaching, co-teaching, co-planning, and team collaboration, while taking accountability for the results of all students in the team. In a new series of vignettes and an accompanying video from Public Impact, the principals tell what they did and how their roles as principal changed when they could rely on their MCL teams to spread great instruction throughout the schools.
As charter school authorizers and states have increased performance expectations and grown less hesitant to close failing schools, “authorizer shopping” has emerged as a growing threat to overall charter school quality. Authorizer shopping happens when a charter school chooses or changes its authorizer specifically to avoid accountability. A low-performing school may shop for a new authorizer to avoid closure, or reopen under a new authorizer after closure. This report considers five examples of authorizer shopping in action and provides specific guidance to authorizers, policymakers, and advocates to address authorizer shopping.
A Three-Part Professional Learning Module
Leading school turnarounds is difficult work that requires specific competencies. This three-part professional learning module, developed through a partnership between the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders, the Center on School Turnaround, Public Impact, and the University of Virginia Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education, provides state and district leaders with tools to identify and apply turnaround leader competencies to the selection and development of school turnaround leaders.
Leading Charlotte foundations formed a funding collaborative to support a five-year district turnaround initiative to dramatically improve educational outcomes for students in the West Charlotte High School corridor, one of the city’s lowest-performing feeder zones. The “Project L.I.F.T.” initiative involves four areas of education intervention: increasing teacher effectiveness; extending learning time; increasing access to and use of technology; and engaging parents and the community in schools. This report examines the genesis of the Project L.I.F.T. initiative, the partnership between the district and private and corporate philanthropists, and strategies to achieve improved graduation rates, student performance, and student growth in the Project L.I.F.T. learning community. Just past the midway point in implementation, the report also considers Project L.I.F.T.’s early successes, impact on the district, and lessons learned. Download the Full Report or the Executive Summary.