What Makes a Turnaround Effort Stick?


Last week, the Institute of Education Sciences’ Turning Around Chronically Low-Performing Schools project released results from their four interconnected longitudinal studies of 750 chronically low-performing schools in Florida, North Carolina, and Texas. Of the schools studied, 15 percent were identified as “true turnarounds: They improved the number of students reaching proficiency in math or reading by at least 5 percentile points, with student growth rates in the 65th percentile statewide.”

What did these schools do differently or better than other chronic underperformers?

Using data to target interventions and guide school improvement, successful turnaround schools had the key practices of strong leadership and low teacher turnover, specific guidance and support from the district, and intensive, ongoing professional development designed to address specific issues in the school’s turnaround plan. Successful schools were also able to focus on select strategies that provided a framework for improvement, rather than throwing everything at the problem and seeing what stuck.

Read Education Week‘s full write-up of the research, last week’s most-clicked story in ASCD SmartBrief.