One promising strategy to dramatically improve chronically low performing schools is known as a “turnaround” – a quick, dramatic, sustained improvement in performance brought about by a highly-capable leader. This type of change is different from what many have tried in the past: the changes are bigger and faster, and the press for success is relentless. Turnarounds also require different types of support and flexibility from district leaders. In this Issue Brief, prepared by Public Impact for The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement at Learning Point Associates, we offer seven steps for district leaders to support the dramatic change required to turn around chronic low performance. Steps include: making a commitment to dramatic change, choosing turnarounds for the right schools, developing a pipeline of turnaround leaders, providing leaders extra flexibility, holding schools accountable, prioritizing teacher hiring for turnaround schools, and proactively engaging the community.
Tripling The Number of Fixed Failing Schools Without Getting Any Better at Fixing Schools. How? By shortening the time that passes before recognizing failure and retrying major change. Most initial efforts to fix failing schools will fail (just like 70% or more major change efforts and start-ups across sectors fall short). But if policymakers commit to faster “retry rates” – one or two years – the cumulative success rate in failing schools can be much higher. Rapid retry won’t be easy: we’ll need strong “leading indicators” that show which efforts are on-track, and a ready supply of leaders and school operators to step in when initial efforts fail. But the payoff would be dramatically higher rates of success in fixing failing schools. Read more in our Try, Try Again slide deck.
This 2009 report, written by Dana Brinson and Lauren Morando Rhim for the Center on Innovation and Improvement, provides five brief profiles of schools that dramatically improved student performance and successfully restructured under federal accountability systems. All five schools failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for several consecutive years, and—once in restructuring—had to chart a course to overhaul the way their schools operated. [Read more…]
Public Impact has developed this series of resources in conjunction with the Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement. The series includes a guide to help district and state leaders choose the best restructuring option for each school, updated in a 2nd edition released in 2009, and white papers identifying what we know from research about when the first four restructuring options under NCLB work: reopening as a charter school, contracting with external providers, turnarounds with new leaders and staff, and state takeovers.