Turning a failing school around takes hard work—and can be even harder to sustain. And right now, most states don’t even have a clear, robust definition of turnaround success.
So Public Impact collaborated with the Center on School Turnaround on Measuring School Turnaround Success to explore an approach that states, districts, and schools can adapt to fit their own contexts. The authors detail the analyses conducted to test a critical part of this approach—measuring academic gains—and recommend expanding the measures to include leading indicators and targets based on school priorities for “early wins.”
- Benefits of multiple measures. Measuring turnaround success is multifaceted and requires using multiple measures of outcomes, leading indicators, and school practices.
- Benefits of percentile rank. Ranking each school against all others in the state is a useful measure of turnaround achievement gains, especially helpful in states where assessments and performance measures have recently changed.
- Trajectory for turnaround success. This approach to measuring school performance can take into account that a school may meet minimum standards at the beginning, showing that it is on track for success, before reaching ambitious targets.
- Accelerate turnaround success. It’s crucial to define and measure turnaround success so other schools can learn from successful schools.
Key next steps:
- Examine the role of leading indicators and school-based targets in turnaround success, to establish a more robust definition of school turnaround success.
- Encourage states to apply the measures of turnaround success, modifying them to fit state needs. Changing assessment and accountability systems present barriers to creating a common definition of turnaround success that can be applied across states, but they also present an opportunity for states to use a common definition as a foundation for measuring success.
- Help states and districts get smarter about what to do when turnarounds seem unlikely to succeed. Most change efforts in education wait for five or more years of continued failure before trying a new turnaround strategy, but research shows the promise of attempting a new strategy earlier. However, starting another turnaround process soon after a previous one has begun presents significant challenges. States and districts need better strategies to intervene and replace failing turnarounds.
Public Impact’s Jeanette Cornier and Cassie Lutterloh, who wrote the report with Public Impact Co-Director Bryan C. Hassel, recently presented on this approach to Measuring Turnaround Success at a Center on School Turnaround webinar for state leaders. A recording of the webinar can be found here on the School Turnaround Learning Community website.