What We Do
The Center on School Turnaround (Center) is part of a federal network of 22 Comprehensive Centers. There are 15 Regional Comprehensive Centers, serving individual states or clusters of states, and 7 national Content Centers. The centers are charged with building the capacity of state educational agencies (SEAs) to assist districts and schools in meeting student achievement goals.
The partners and collaborators in this Center—WestEd, the Academic Development Institute, the University of Virginia’s Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education, the National Implementation Research Network, Public Impact, the National Center on Time and Learning, Education Northwest, and a panel of nationally known education experts—strongly believe that efforts to turn around the nation’s persistently low-achieving schools can move from a system that focuses on islands of excellence to the “way we do business” in the United States.
Although there are numerous examples of schools with a history of dismal student performance that have turned themselves into successful learning organizations, previous efforts to systematically turn around our nation’s lowest achieving schools have not been successful. There is reason to believe, however, that we can increase the odds of achieving success. A bright spotlight on these chronically low-performing schools and a sense of urgency to change their trajectory, coupled with additional funding and a strong set of policy-driven interventions, have created a unique opportunity to drive dramatic change that will benefit children.
The goal of the Center on School Turnaround is to provide technical assistance and identify, synthesize, and disseminate research-based practices and emerging promising practices that will lead to SEAs’ increased capacity to support districts in turning around their lowest-performing schools.
To achieve this goal, the Center has identified four objectives that provide the work plan’s overall frame and are key to creating an environment at the state level that encourages school turnaround.
- Create a Pro-Turnaround Statutory and Regulatory Environment
- Administer and Manage Turnaround Efforts Effectively
- Provide Targeted and Timely Technical Assistance to Local Educational Agencies and Schools
- Advocate and Lead to Build Support for Local Turnaround Efforts
Meeting these four objectives will realize the goal of increased SEA capacity to support schools and districts in turning around their lowest-performing schools. The Center work plan is organized around focus areas that are derived primarily from identified needs of schools and districts. The activities undertaken in each focus area are designed to help states build capacity to implement state-level initiatives and support district- and school-level initiatives to meet those local needs. The Center’s focus areas are the following:
- Developing SEA Staff Capacity and SEA Organizational Structures
- Building District Capacity
- Creating Policies, Incentives, and Partnerships to Ensure a Pipeline of Turnaround Leaders
- Promoting Cooperative Labor-Management Relations
- Promoting the Use of Expanded Learning Time
- Creating Systems and Processes to Ensure a Pool of High-Quality Turnaround Partners
- Ensuring the Availability and Use of Data Systems at the SEA Level
- Supporting Schools and Districts in Establishing a Positive School Climate
- Monitoring and Evaluating School Turnaround Efforts
- Improving Capacity of School Boards to Support Turnarounds
- Engaging Families and Communities
- Building Political Will for Dramatic Change