7 Tenets for Sustainable School Turnaround

Scott Sargrad, Samantha Batel, Karen Hawley Miles, and Karen Baroody; Center for American Progress
13 Sep, 2016


To this end, in January 2016, the Center for American Progress and Education Resource Strategies, or ERS—a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving urban schools—brought together federal, state, and local leaders with expertise in school turnaround to develop a set of design tenets for state policymakers. Through this collaboration, CAP and ERS aim to use evidence from the field to affect local, state, and federal law and policy.

Included in the conversation were current and former state superintendents, district and regional superintendents, and state and federal officials. As a result of that discussion, this report outlines seven tenets for state leaders to consider:

  1. Grant districts, and ultimately the state, the authority to intervene in failing schools.

  2. Provide significant resources to support planning and restructuring and leverage competitive grants.

  3. Treat the district as the unit of change and hold them accountable for school improvement.

  4. Create transparent tiers of intervention and support combined with ongoing capacity building and sharing best practices.

  5. Promote stakeholder engagement.

  6. Create pipeline programs for developing and supporting effective turnaround school leaders.

  7. Embed evaluation and evidence-based building activities in school implementation.

This report also recommends the appropriate roles for the federal government, states, districts, and schools to play in supporting successful turnaround efforts.