—tools and support for educators, districts and states.
Thousands of schools nationwide struggle to help students learn enough to close achievement gaps and leap ahead, despite teachers’ hard work and best efforts. Yet exceptions—schools that have introduced changes and gotten better learning fast—are growing in number. These schools empower, train, and extend the reach of great principals and teachers with the will, skill, and accountability to achieve strong student growth results. These educators “try, try again” with every student, and as a school, until far more students leap ahead.
Education leaders need better approaches to turn their schools around like the best schools. Public Impact has surveyed the cross-sector experience and both led and studied education-sector successes to generate resources that help educators, districts, and states implement successful turnarounds. Our work includes supporting turnaround schools, including Opportunity Culture schools, which have achieved far more high growth and less low growth than comparable schools. Educators in turnaround and other high-poverty schools, whose students face persistent challenges, will find help here.
Contact us for training and consulting to help your school(s) transition to instructional excellence using turnarounds.
Here we link to tools and resources.
Also see OpportunityCulture.org for tools and resources supporting schools that use teacher-leadership and other paid, advanced teaching roles.
Public Impact’s Turnarounds with New Leaders and New Staff was the first cross-sector research to show how turnarounds could be used effectively in K–12 education. For over a decade, Public Impact has been a field leader with its cutting-edge turnaround research, new solutions, and practical tools.
- We published the first complete set of school turnaround principal and teacher competencies for selection and development, as well as research-based actions of successful turnaround leaders.
- We forged the concept of extending the reach of excellent teachers and principals to more students, and forming teams of accountable multi-classroom leaders and multi-school leaders to help educators achieve school turnaround success. Schools we’ve helped have been among the highest-growth schools in their districts and states.
- The Secret to Sustainable School Reform: Slow and Steady Wins the Race
In 2007, civic and philanthropic leaders founded the nonprofit Partnership for Los Angeles Schools to transform some of the city’s highest-need, lowest-performing schools. Eleven years later, schools in the Partnership network have made notable improvements, with much more substantial gains in student performance relative to other schools in the state. This report from Public Impact examines the Partnership’s unique “in-district” model for school turnarounds and the findings from an analysis of student academic data to understand how the Partnership has addressed the significant challenges facing low-resource schools.
- Turnarounds with New Leaders and Staff
- Building Family and Community Demand for Dramatic Change in Schools
District-led, dramatic change efforts in failing schools—including turnarounds and school closures—often face strong resistance from families and communities. This 2012 report and related presentation share lessons learned about the barriers districts and communities across the country have faced in building community demand for dramatic change as well as strategies for overcoming those barriers. The report includes three vignettes about efforts to build community demand for dramatic change in Denver, Philadelphia, and Chicago schools.
- Performance-Based Dismissals: Cross-Sector Lessons for School Turnarounds
In successful turnarounds, staff dismissals are typically small in number, and focused on employees who cannot or will not make the radical change necessary to dramatically improve performance. In this report, written by Julie Kowal, Jacob L. Rosch, Emily Ayscue Hassel, and Bryan C. Hassel, for the Center on Innovation and Improvement, we examine the research base on performance-based dismissals in other sectors to offer strategies for leaders in turnaround schools. A PowerPoint summary of the report is available here.
- Breaking the Habit of Low Performance: Successful School Restructuring Stories
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. (more…)
- School Turnarounds: Doing What Works
The School Turnaround section of the Doing What Works website, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, features video interviews with Bryan C. Hassel about the leadership strategies that recur in successful turnarounds and the district’s role in supporting turnaround principals. Julie Kowal offers expert advice about strategies for motivating and redeploying staff, and discusses the district’s role in supporting principals’ staffing changes in turnaround schools.
- School Turnarounds: A Review of the Cross-Sector Evidence on Dramatic Organizational Improvement
Prepared for the Center on Innovation and Improvement, this updated and expanded version of Public Impact’s 2005 paper reviews the considerable literature from the business, nonprofit, government, and education sectors on what factors make turnarounds most likely to succeed, including the actions turnaround leaders take and the environment in which they work. Click here for a presentation based on this report.
- School Restructuring Options Under No Child Left Behind: What Works When
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.
- The Big U-Turn: How to bring schools from the brink of doom to stellar success
In this 2009 Education Next article, Emily Ayscue Hassel and Bryan C. Hassel describe six leadership strategies that recur in successful school turnarounds. Focusing on a few early wins, breaking organizational norms, rapid experimentation to find solutions that work, getting the right staff, driving change with data, and running a “turnaround campaign” are highlighted.
- Financial Incentives for Hard-to-Staff Positions, Cross-Sector Lessons for Public Education
Debate rages in education over whether to provide teachers with financial incentives in order to improve recruitment and retention in “hard-to-staff” schools and subject areas. In other public sectors—the civil service, military, and medicine—organizations take for granted that compensation is a powerful tool; they have moved from this debate about “whether” to a discussion of “how.” Experience from these domains suggests that a “portfolio” of incentives (including performance bonuses, loan repayment or scholarship programs, and other forms) may be most effective. As a component of this portfolio, performance-based incentives can boost both the recruitment and retention power of hard-to-staff pay—particularly for the high-potential candidates that we need most in hard-to-staff schools. (more…)