NEPC: Turnarounds “More Likely to Cause Upheaval Than to Help”

I am very fortunate to be at a AERA Division L meeting with many esteemed education policy faculty, including Tina Trujillo, professor at UC-Berkeley. At dinner yesterday, she gave me the heads-up on a new policy and legislative brief that she authored for NEPC examining school turnaround. The brief is entitled Democratic School Turnarounds: Pursuing Equity and Learning From Evidence. It was released today. If you are not on NEPC’s release list, consider joining. You can follow NEPC on Twitter or friend them on Facebook

From the release,

A new report, “Democratic School Turnarounds: Pursuing Equity and Learning from Evidence,” by Tina Trujillo at the University of California, Berkeley and Michelle Renée of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, suggests that government agencies and policy-makers, including the U.S. Department of Education, would be wise to look at educational research as they guide school turnarounds. Evidence shows that top-down, punitive efforts that are currently in vogue are ineffective and counterproductive. A collaborative, community-driven approach combined with significant, sustained financial investment and a focus on teaching and learning has been proven to be the better path to school improvement.

We also hope to have news soon on the peer-reviewed journal acceptance of a study entitled “A Nostrum of School Reform?: Turning Around Reconstituted Urban Texas High Schools” This study examines school turnaround in Texas (Houston and Dallas). As a teaser I will post the abstract below.

A mainstay in NCLB and the Obama administration education plan is turning around schools. This study utilized surveys and interviews with school leaders from four turnaround urban high schools in Texas to understand student outcomes before and after school reconstitution. While some organizational changes were apparent; overall, respondents cited rapidly changing technical strategies and haphazard adjustments from external sources as a great challenge. Reconstitution also magnified challenges that existed before and after restructuring efforts. Most importantly, the evidence suggests that school reconstitution did not immediately improve student achievement, impact grade retention and decrease student dropout in the study schools.

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Categories: Accountability, High-Stakes Testing, School Turnaround

Author:Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin.

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  1. Obama facing school “turnaround” civil rights complaints | Cloaking Inequity - January 28, 2013

    [...] One of the issues that was not raised at the time by the NAACP and LULAC but has come to the forefront in many other states since is school closure and “turnaround.” My co-authors and I will discuss Dallas and Houston (We found that they have had the lion share of school “turnaround” attempts in the state of Texas) turnarounds in a forthcoming article in Urban Education entitled A Nostrum of School Reform?: Turning Around Reconstituted Urban Texas High Schools— I included the abstract for the article here. [...]

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