Attempts to improve schools through “turnaround” initiatives like those supported by the federal Student Improvement Grant program are based on “faulty evidence and unwarranted claims,” says a brief released last week.
The report, by the National Education Policy Center, an education research organization based at the University of Colorado at Boulder, includes a critical review of current research on and anecdotal evidence from turnaround programs and makes recommendations for a more “democratic process” for school turnarounds.
The authors, Tina Trujillo, an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Michelle Renée, a principal associate at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University in Providence, R.I., particularly question the federal SIG program, which has led to an increase in turnaround efforts nationwide by providing districts with funds for three years to implement four different strategies but does not pay for longer-term improvements. The authors say the research on turnarounds, and especially on their longer-term effectiveness, is limited.
The report recommends: increasing spending on public education; focusing turnaround efforts on improving the quality of teaching; engaging a broader swath of the community in planning and executing turnarounds; determining school quality through multiple measures rather than test scores alone; providing wraparound support for struggling scores; and providing more and more-rigorous research on school turnarounds.
A version of this article appeared in the October 10, 2012 edition of Education Week as Report Calls for Rethinking School Turnaround Efforts