What Works in School Turnarounds?
An important feature of the Obama administration's Race to the Top initiative is the call to turn around failing schools. The policy calls for persistently failing schools to be subjected to specific turnaround strategies, and $3.5 billion in federal School Improvement Grant funds has been allocated to support the effort.
We applaud President Barack Obama's desire to address this pervasive problem. However, we are concerned that the approach prescribed by the U.S. Department of Education, while well intentioned, is misguided. Because of the vast sums of federal dollars that have been directed toward this effort and the narrow timeline under which changes are expected to be made, we are seeing a new industry of "turnaround experts" emerge, most of whom have no track record of helping struggling schools. We are concerned that desperate schools will waste scarce resources on efforts that will promise much but deliver little. Meanwhile, millions of children throughout America will continue to languish in failing schools.
There is, in fact, a knowledge base about how to transform struggling schools, and it is drawn from the small but significant number of failing schools that have been transformed into models of success. In the following, we point out the faults of the current approach and how lessons from "transformed" schools can be used to...
This article is available to subscribers only.
To keep reading this article and more, subscribe now or start a 2-week FREE trial.
Access selected articles, e-newsletters and more!