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Answering Questions About What Works in Improving Low-Performing Schools and Districts PDF - This ECS Research Review summarizes six research studies addressing school improvement. (Molly Ryan, Education Commission of the States, November 2009)...

The Progress of Education Reform: School Improvement--What Works in Improving Low-Performing Schools and Districts? PDF - This issue highlights recent research that explores what works in improving low-performing schools and districts, examines what is being learned from research and looks at the subsequent implications for state policy. (Kathy Christie, Education Commission of the States, November 2007)...

The State Role in Accelerating Student Growth in Low-Performing High Schools MS Word PDF - The goal of state intervention in a school or district designated as low-performing is not to punish. It is to help figure out how to improve student learning. The challenge, particularly for a chief state school officer or state board of education, is how best to leverage assistance to schools that have varying degrees of need. This ECS Policy Brief examines what has been learned from research and looks at the subsequent implications for state policy. It also makes suggestions for specific actions and provides examples of approaches that states have taken to amend governance and organizational structures, improve instructional conditions and increase instructional capacity. (Kathy Christie, Education Commission of the States, June 2007)...

School Improvement: What works in improving low-performing schools/districts? - Access related research titles from the ECS Research Studies Database. Links embedded in titles will take you to each study's major findings and recommendations....

Changing the Metrics of Turnaround to Encourage Early Learning Strategies - Changing the Metrics of Turnaround to Encourage Early Learning Strategies and the previously released Framework for Rethinking Education Accountability and Support Birth Through High School address how current K-12 turnaround and accountability policies create a disincentive to local investment in early learning and K-2. So far, accountability and turnaround have focused on student test scores third grade and up as the primary measure of progress, ignoring what goes on in the early learning and K-2. But itís the first years of life that are the most important to development. (Elliott Regenstein et al., Ounce of Prevention, September 2014)...

A Focused Look at Schools Receiving School Improvement Grants that Have Percentages of English Language Learner Students - Researchers looked at 11 schools in urban, suburban and rural areas that received School Improvement Grants and had ELL percentages. They found all 11 reported providing specialized services, but the schools' approaches to improvement during initial phases of SIG appeared to include only moderate attention to ELLs' needs. Two districts had no ELL-trained staff;seven larger districts had multiply-staffed ESL departments. Schools that seemed to provide stronger attention to ELLs' needs were more likely to report having school staff dedicated to that purpose. (National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, April 2014)...

Choosing a Lead Partner: State Education Agency Strategies for Recruiting and Evaluating Lead Partners to Support Turnaround - A guide for state education agencies, this brief focuses on how to attract, recruit and develop best organizations to turn around low-performing districts and schools. Sought-after lead partners offered their views on what kind of regulatory environment they need to accomplish their best work. Advice is given on crafting a request for proposal that will solicit and help evaluate applicants. (Pei Pei ma, Mass Insight Education, April 2014) ...

"Extraordinary Authority Districts": Design Considerations - Framework and Takeaways - For states considering establishing Extraordinary Authority Districts (EADs) in which states gain legal authority to take over and operate underperforming schools or districts, early implementation states offer insights into takeover authority, funding and operations, and long-term viability. Highlighted are Connecticut, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan and Tennessee. For those in the midst of implementation, advice is offered on best strategies for school operations, central office design, nonprofit partner roles, school selection and exit strategy. (Susan Kebschull Barrett, Christen Holly and Bryan C. Hassel, Public Impact and America Achieves, February 2014)...

Examining Turnaround Efforts Funded by School Improvement Grants - To get an idea of the impact from federal School Improvement Grants, researchers compared low performing schools that got the grants with similar schools that didn't. In almost all operational areas, they found less than half of both groups reported having primary responsibility for decision making. Most states, districts and schools reported providing or receiving some turnaround support, and most states reported that monitoring involved site visits and analysis of student data. (Mathematica Policy Research, January 2014)...

Make Room for the Principal Supervisors - Denver Public Schools is one of a growing number of districts that are rethinking the job of principal supervisors. A key feature is decreasing the number of people a supervisor manages so he or she can better support the ones he or she has. Denver accomplished that with federal funding to support its school turnaround efforts. The district divided 20 failing schools into geographic clusters and hired deputy instructional superintendents to oversee them. It worked so well that to afford even more, the number of staff working for instructional superintendents was reduced. (Jennifer Gill, The Wallace Foundation, December 2013)...

School Improvement Grant (SIG) Assessment Results: Cohorts 1 and 2 - The U.S. Department of Education released an analysis of the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program this week, comparing the average proficiency rates of SIG schools in the 2011-12 school year to the year before receiving grants, the 2009-10 school year for Cohort 1 and the 2010-11 school year for Cohort 2. Among the results: on average, SIG schools are making gains in math and reading, Cohort 1 schools continued to improve in the second year of receiving SIG funds, Cohort 1 demonstrated larger increases in average proficiency rates in math and reading compared to all schools while Cohort 1 showed larger increases in math, but similar increases in reading. (U.S. Department of Education)...

The Money You Don't Know You Have for School Turnaround: Maximizing the Title I Schoolwide Model - Title 1's schoolwide model can be a powerful tool for improving student outcomes, but schoolwide programs haven't been used to their fullest potential. The problem is, many schools eligible for the schoolwide approach limit Title 1 spending because of misunderstandings about how the federal "supplement not supplant" requirement applies to schoolwide programs. They use Title 1 targeted assisted funds instead for individual at-risk students. This brief explains how schools operating a schoolwide model could use Title 1 funds for: turning around low performing schools, upgrading the curriculum, teacher support, school climate interventions, formative or interim assessments, expanded learning opportunities, and family or community engagement activities. (Mass Insight Education, State Development Network for School Turnaround)(Melissa Junge and Sheara Krvaric, Mass Insight Education and SDN, July 2013)...

Measuring School Capacity, Maximizing School Improvement - This policy brief offers a common framework for analyzing school "capacity" that educators, policymakers, and researchers alike can apply and understand with consistency. Drawing data from a larger three-year CPRE study of school responses to accountability in Pennsylvania, the authors create a shared language that can be applied to research and improvement efforts in schools. (Consortium for Policy Research in Education, July 2012)...

Opportunities and Obstacles: Implementing Stimulus-Funded School Improvement Grants in Maryland, Michigan, and Idaho - This report examines the implementation of the federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) program by drawing on research conducted in three states, seven school districts, and 11 schools -- including schools that were eligible for but did not receive a SIG award. The study looks at how the federal program requirements are working within the state and local context, the progress made during the first year of the three-year grant implementation, and the different approaches being used to improve student achievement in schools that received SIG funds compared to schools that were eligible for but did not receive grants. (Center on Education Policy, March, 2012)...

State Implementation and Perceptions of Title I School Improvement Grants under the Recovery Act: One Year Later - Based on a winter 2011-12 survey of state directors of the federal Title I program, this report examines the first year of state implementation of the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. It focuses on state processes for renewing the SIG awards made for school year 2010-11, state assistance to schools, and general perceptions of the ARRA SIG program requirements. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia participated in the survey. (Center on Education Policy, March, 2012)...

"We Should Have Been Bolder..." - This is the second in a series of regular issue briefs exploring various aspects, challenges, and lessons learned from efforts to help struggling schools improve student achievement. (Mass Insight Education's School Turnaround Group, March 2012)...

Competing for School Improvement Dollars: State Grant-Making Strategies - This paper takes a closer look at state grant-making strategies for federal school improvement dollars. Further, it reviews the way in which state funding practices for school improvement have changed as a result of the updated School Improvement Grant program (SIG) requirements and how states have used their flexibility to implement a competitive grant process. Specifically, this paper details the approach that three states have taken in administering their grant competitions. These states illuminate the spectrum of competitiveness in the state grant-making process that has emerged as a result of the new school improvement regulations. (Center for American Progress, March 2012) ...

Learning from Charter School Management Organizations: Strategies for Student Behavior and Teacher Coaching - This is the final report from The National Study of CMO Effectiveness, a four-year study designed to assess the impact of Charter Management Organizations (CMO) on student achievement and identify CMO structures and practices that are most effective in raising achievement. This report provides an in-depth look at two promising practices that exhibit a strong association with impacts: high expectations for student behavior and intensive teacher coaching. This report is designed to be a resource for CMOs, schools, and districts interested in adopting these promising practices. (Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research, March, 2012) ...

Turnaround Brief: Successful Principals Speak Out - This brief provides feedback from a network of leading principals on what they need from their school districts to successfully turnaround low-performing schools. The network of principals is being developed by STG to exchange best practices, overcome obstacles, and bridge the gap between turnaround practitioners and policymakers. (Mass Insight Educationís School Turnaround Group, March 2012)...

New Orleans-Style Education Reform: A Guide for Cities: Lessons Learned, 2004-2010 - This report shares the insights and lessons learned in developing a choice-based, predominantly charter system in New Orleans. The report can aid districts struggling to remedy widespread school system failure by providing tools and resources to guide their initial thinking, early work, and longer-term planning. (New Schools for New Orleans, January 2012)...

State Capacity for School Improvement: A First Look at Agency Resources - Researchers examined eight state education agencies to determine how they could respond to federal pressures for states to play a larger role in school turnarounds. The authors found federal strictures dictate how monies are used for state education agency staffing for certain programs. With some flexibility the agencies could provide some additional support for typically underfunded school improvement initiatives. (Center on Reinventing Public Education, August 2011)...

School Restructuring: What Works When--A Guide for Education Leaders - The third edition of this guide provides information for school and district leaders to choose the intervention model that will work best to improve their schools. The guide provides objective, research-based information and highlights practical decision-making tools that take into account the strengths and constraints of many districts. The guide has chapters on each of the four school improvement grant models: turnaround, transformation, restart and closure. (Learning Points, June 2011)...

Leading Indicators of School Turnarounds: How to Know When Dramatic Change Is On Track - This report summarizes the research and experience from settings in which leaders have long relied on leading indicators to enhance the likelihood of success. Key principles and processes are identified to guide the design and use of leading indicators in education. A starting list of leading indicators and a proposed monitoring timetable for district, state, and other education leaders to use in turnaround schools are also provided. (Public Impact, 2011)...

Using Competencies to Improve School Turnaround Principal Success - This report provides guidance for organizations on how to use competencies to select, evaluate, and develop effective school turnaround leaders. (Public Impact, 2011)...

State Strategies for Fixing Failing Schools and Districts - n 2009, the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices awarded competitive grants to four states to participate in the State Strategies to Improve Chronically Low-Performing Schools project. The project provided Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts and Mississippi with grant funds and consulting services to develop policies and plans creating the conditions to turn around chronically low-performing schools and districts. The project yielded valuable lessons and suggested strategies that states and territories can use to fix failing schools and districts. (NGA Center for Best Practices, March 2011)...

Meeting the Challenge: The Role of School Leaders in Turning Around the Lowest-Performing High Schools - The challenge of improving the lowest-performing high schools serving the most challenged populations remains. This policy brief examines the limitations of previous high school reforms and describes new approaches showing promise in producing substantive changes in secondary level teaching and learning. It highlights the central role of school leaders and districts in creating high school learning environments that can engage and support students with widely divergent learning needs. Included are a set of policy recommendations for the design of coherent systems to build human capital and foster the conditions for high school transformation. (Alliance for Excellent Education, January 2011)...

School Improvement Grants: Take 2--Lessons Learned from Round 1 - This publication provides local and state officials with a framework to revise the Round 2 School Improvement Grant (SIG) process. SIG, both in the level of its funding and the boldness of its requirements, is an unprecedented attempt to alter the fate of students in low-performing schools nationwide. There has never before been an opportunity to dedicate this much national energy and resources to the turnaround of failing schools. However, while SIG may be a huge opportunity for dramatic change, if mismanaged, it is also a huge opportunity to once again fail our students, families, and communities. (Mass Insight Education, December 2010)...

The District Turnaround Office: A Comprehensive Support Structure for Struggling Students - An extension of Mass Insight's research on partnership zones, the findings in this presentation focus on the creation of a District Turnaround Office as a new internal unit within a local education agency. The district turnaround office is a centralized entity that has both the capacity and authority to manage and coordinate all turnaround efforts within an local education agency. When fully realized, the model will lead to a single office with a clear mandate for providing underperforming schools with everything they need to improve student achievement. (School Turnaround Group, August 2010)...

Innovation, Motherhood and Apple Pie - The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 authorized the Secretary of Education to establish a $650 million Innovation Fund to expand the work of schools that have made gains in closing achievement gaps. With growing discussion and considerable money heading in the direction of innovation, the author provides recommendations on how the Department of Education should evaluate successful programs. (Grover Whitehurst, Brookings Institution, March 2009)...

Toward a School District Infrastructure that More Effectively Addresses Barriers to Learning and Teaching - This report looks at school districts and systems and illustrates deficiencies in organizational structure and barriers to learning and teaching. It considers the need for restructuring and offers models for the development of comprehensive system of learning supports. (Howard Adelman and Linda Taylor, Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA, January 2007)...

The Challenge of Supporting Change Elementary Student Achievement and the Bay Area School Reform Collaborativeís Focal Strategy - As increasing numbers of states struggle with ways to support low-performing schools, findings from this study should provoke many questions at the state level. The study analyzed the effects of a "coaching" approach that promoted a vision of culture change, relying on three key features: coaching of district and school leaders; evidence-based decisionmaking at all levels of the system; and networking within and across schools to share experiences and lessons. Although the goal was originally intended to support both districts and schools in a "bottom-up and top-down" approach, in practice the focal strategy primarily served district leadership, was not sustained at the school level, and thus, typically did not lead to specific changes in instruction or specific instructional supports at the school and classroom levels. Executive summary (Kristin E. Porter and Jason C. Snipes, MDRC 2006) ...


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