Turning Around the Nation’s Lowest Performing Schools

Karen Baroody, Center for American Progress, January 2011

Across the country, states and school districts are focusing on turning around the nation’s lowest-performing schools. This focus on school turnaround, while welcome, is not new. And while some schools have made significant gains in student achievement, results overall are decidedly mixed. Based on our more than a decade of experience working with urban districts, ERS believes that successful school turnaround also requires district turn-around—fundamental changes in the way that districts think about and provide support for schools.

ERS has identified five steps that districts can take in designing and implementing their school improvement programs that will increase the probability that their efforts will achieve lasting improvement:

  • Understand what each school needs
  • Understand what each school gets
  • Invest in the most important changes first
  • Customize the strategy to the school
  • Change the district, not just the school

Please visit the Center for American Progress to download the full report or executive summary.