Tough Day for Fixing Failing Schools

On the heels of my last post on “The Turnaround Fallacy,” Sam Dillon turns in a NYTimes piece on the Consortium on Chicago Schools Research’s new report on closing failing schools.  The punchline is that closure wasn’t necessarily good for kids.  There are two points I want to make here.

First, folks who think that “close and replace” should be the dominant strategy for school change need to read this piece.  As our Mass Insight founder Bill Guenther is fond of saying, “You have to pull multiple levers at once.”   Closure is only a part of school change, and if you really want to transform learning for kids in need, you have to have an “inside strategy” for turning around failing schools.

Second, the term “turnaround” is used to define many competing things.  We think it’s a fairly broad term that can encompass a number of different schol change strategies.  In particular, the draft requirements for the latest USED School Improvement Grants include four different school change strategies: Turnaround, Restart, Closure, and Transformation.  We would argue that the only one that doesn’t fit in our definition of “turnaround” is the Closure category.  Transformation is somewhat weak sauce and smacks a little of the old “other” option under NCLB restructuring, but the rest have real promise if executed with our “Three Cs”: capacity through Lead Partner organizations; clustering to achieve scale; and changing operating conditions to enable dramatic action.

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One Response to Tough Day for Fixing Failing Schools

  1. Pingback: Quick Shots « Meeting the Turnaround Challenge

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