A report released last week by the Center for American Progress examines the educational, political, and organizational shortcomings that undermine states’ stabs at turning around low-performing schools.
State efforts in local schools often unravel because state and district officials do not make the overall purpose of an intervention clear to the public, which sows mistrust and unrealistic expectations, according to the report. It says states also rush to select models for fixing schools, rather than taking a closer look at factors that may be impeding progress, such as the starting points of the students, the teachers’ instructional skills, and the lack of high-quality professional development.
“If states are truly to become the catalysts for systemic change at the district level,” it concludes, “then their strategies need to be based on what has been learned from the national experience to date in state-to-district interventions.”
A version of this article appeared in the September 22, 2010 edition of Education Week as District Turnarounds