A Better Turnaround Strategy
As Americans, we want our nation’s children to experience success. The failure of some schools to reach our most challenged students, coupled with our frustration over the slow pace of change, creates a sense of urgency. Hence, it is understandable that individuals and organizations try to intervene in extraordinary ways to overcome obstacles to academic success.
The U.S. Department of Education’s four “turnaround” models represent the latest of these bold responses. Clearly, it is a dramatic act to close a school; to release most of the faculty and recruit other teachers; to relinquish the school to an external organization promising better results; to offer financial incentives for raising test scores; or to bring in new leadership charged with generating the desired results. Occasionally, these measures have a short-term impact. For students struggling in the wake left by poverty and structural racism, there are no quick fixes, however. While high-profile solutions may create a sense of relief that action is under way, they have not produced turnarounds that are effective in the long term. They may even undermine more effective and sustainable practices.
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