State and District leaders can help more turnaround-attempt schools succeed by selecting the right principals, training them, helping them transition to school models supported by teacher-leadership, tracking leading indicators of performance, and coaching principals to make needed changes fast.
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Resources for state and district leaders:
- Turnaround Competencies and Actions—Principals and Teachers
- Recruiting and Selecting Turnaround Principals, Teachers, and Teacher-Leaders
- Turnaround School Planning Tools—support your schools in using these tools, and use them to track schools’ progress against goals!
- Turnaround Leader 360 Feedback Assessment
- See what else we have for turnaround principals
- See what else we have for turnaround teachers and teacher-leaders
- More Resources
Public Impact produced some of the earliest work guiding states and districts choosing among school turnaround strategies and has been the field leader in providing research, guidance and implementation support for turnarounds within schools, charter restarts and innovation zones. Districts and states that want to use any combination of these strategies can count on our up-to-date research and experience to help choose the right changes, monitor progress and press for success over the long-haul.
- 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.
- 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…)
- Try, Try Again
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.
- Successful School Turnarounds: Seven Steps for District Leaders
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.
- Leading Indicators of School Turnarounds: How to Know when Dramatic Change is On Track
In school turnarounds, leading indicators can provide early evidence about whether a school is on track – and if not, how to intervene to increase the odds of success. In this report, we summarize the research and experience from other settings in which leaders have long relied on leading indicators to enhance the likelihood of success. From these lessons, we identify key principles and processes to guide the design and use of leading indicators in education. We also present a starting list of leading indicators and a proposed monitoring timetable for district, state, and other education leaders to use in turnaround schools. Read more…
- Using Competencies to Improve School Turnaround Principal Success
This paper, produced for the University of Virginia’s School Turnaround Specialist Program, describes how using competencies that predict performance can improve turnaround principal selection, evaluation, and development. Although the term “competency” often describes any work-related skill, in this context competencies are the underlying motives and habits—patterns of thinking, feeling, acting, and speaking—that cause a person to be successful in a specific job or role. (more…)
- 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.
- Importing Leaders for School Turnarounds: Lessons and Opportunities
This report for the University of Virginia’s Partnership for Leaders in Education explores lessons about when and how organizations in other sectors import leaders – including how they tempt people away, train them, and foster their success – to inform efforts by state and local leaders to import talent for failing schools. One of the biggest challenges in education today is identifying talented candidates to successfully lead turnarounds of persistently low-achieving schools. (more…)
- Extraordinary Authority Districts: Design Considerations—Framework and Takeaways
“Extraordinary authority districts”—turnaround districts in which states gain legal authority to take over and operate chronically underperforming schools and/or districts—can fundamentally transform school structures and practices. In this brief, Public Impact, in partnership with America Achieves, compiles common challenges and lessons learned from early-implementing EAD state leaders who met for a wide-ranging discussion in 2013. Many of the takeaways are relevant no matter where a state stands in the process of pursuing a successful school turnaround strategy.
- Expanding District Capacity to Turn Around Failing Schools: An Evaluation of the Cameron Middle School Charter Conversion
After several unsuccessful turnaround efforts and years of chronic low performance at Cameron Middle School, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) decided to try something different to dramatically improve student outcomes: gradually convert operation of the school from the district to a charter management organization. This 2014 report for MNPS tells the story behind the conversion, evaluates its successes and challenges, and extracts lessons learned for MNPS and other districts working to build their capacity to better support their lowest performing schools.
- Measuring School Turnaround Success
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.”