School                                      Turnarounds                                       Actions and ResultsCenter on...
SCHOOL                  TURNAROUNDS                              Actions and ResultsPrepared by Dana Brinson, Julie Kowal ...
Information        Tools   TrainingPositive results for students will come from changes in the knowledge, skill, and behav...
TABLE OF CONTENTS  Introduction..............................................................................................
Actions and Results                           INTRODUCTION      Under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), schoolsthat fai...
School Turnaroundsthe final stage of restructuring. Most dis-       arise from the actions in order for studenttricts used...
Actions and Resultsstudent performance. More information            after their first year. Turnarounds deemedabout this a...
School Turnarounds   Turnaround Leader Actions Table  Turnaround Leader Action                             What It Means  ...
Actions and Results Turnaround Leader Action                               What It MeansDo Not Tout Progress as        Tur...
School Turnarounds                     8
Actions and Results             Initial Analysis and                Problem SolvingCollect and analyze data     Initially,...
School TurnaroundsLynne Patrick, principal of the lowest per-         At Alcester-Hudson Elementary informing elementary s...
Actions and Results             Driving for ResultsConcentrate on big, fast payoffs in year one, andsilence critics with s...
School Turnaroundsguidance about next steps” (Galvin and         Principal Patrick “had the hallway floorsParsley, 2005, p...
Actions and Resultsachieve early wins. In a failing organiza-          had one 75-minute period every day fortion, existin...
School Turnaroundsboard members that she had surveyed the          pointments, conduct anger managementparents and communi...
Actions and Resultssuccess, staff unwilling or unable to make         students’ overall health and well beingchanges that ...
School Turnarounds                     16
Actions and Results               Influencing Inside                  and Outside the                    OrganizationCommu...
School Turnaroundsism. “Once teachers began to hold their            Gain support of key influencersstudents to high acade...
Actions and Resultstook some time, over a year, but students           aged parents to become involved in thelearned to co...
School Turnaroundscivil rights lawsuit claiming unequal treat-        are small problems, fixing them makes thement, and t...
Actions and Results        Measuring, Reporting             (and Improving)Measure and report progress frequently     Turn...
School TurnaroundsToday, instruction in the school revolves          ning time. The principal obtained permis-around data”...
Actions and Resultsagreed to teach mathematics for one hour         faculty member was not abiding by theseand 15 minutes ...
School Turnarounds                     24
Actions and Results  Annotated BibliographyAlmanzan, H.M. (2005, Summer). Schools moving up. Educa-  tional Leadership, 62...
School Turnarounds  ¬¬ Reaching out to parents to meet     parents’ needs: feeling comfort-                Galvin, M., & P...
Actions and ResultsMullen, C.A., & Patrick, R.L. (2000). The          Paul, D. (2005). Higher education in com-  persisten...
School Turnaroundsimplementation of such a course was only           provide rigorous coursework. The school,possible by t...
Actions and ResultsFor more information on schoolturnarounds and related topics,          please see:     www.centerii.org...
School Turnarounds                     30
For more information please          contact: Center on Innovation & Improvement         Twin paths to better schools.   1...
SCHOOL TURNAROUNDS
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SCHOOL TURNAROUNDS

  1. 1. School Turnarounds Actions and ResultsCenter onInnovation &Improvement Twin paths to better schools.
  2. 2. SCHOOL TURNAROUNDS Actions and ResultsPrepared by Dana Brinson, Julie Kowal and Bryan C. Hassel of Public Impact for the Center on Innovation & Improvement. Lauren Morando Rhim and Eli Valsing also contributed.
  3. 3. Information   Tools   TrainingPositive results for students will come from changes in the knowledge, skill, and behavior of theirteachers and parents. State policies and programs must provide the opportunity, support, incentive, andexpectation for adults close to the lives of children to make wise decisions.The Center on Innovation & Improvement helps regional comprehensive centers in their work withstates to provide districts, schools, and families with the opportunity, information, and skills to make wisedecisions on behalf of students. A national content center supported by the U. S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. Award #S283B050057 The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position of the supporting agencies, and no official endorsement should be inferred.© 2008 Public Impact, Academic Development Institute. All rights reserved.Design: Pam Sheley
  4. 4. TABLE OF CONTENTS  Introduction..................................................................................................................................... 3Turnaround Leader Action Table................................................................................................ 6 .Initial Analysis and Problem Solving............................................................................................ 9 Collect and Analyze Data.......................................................................................................................... 9 . Make Action Plan Based on Data........................................................................................................... 10 .Driving for Results.......................................................................................................................... 11 . Concentrate on Big, Fast Payoffs........................................................................................................... 11 . Implement Practices Even If They Require Deviation..................................................................... 12 . Require All Staff to Change..................................................................................................................... 14 . Make Necessary Staff Replacements. ..................................................................................................... 14 Focus on Successful Tactics...................................................................................................................... 15 Do Not Tout Progress as Ultimate Success....................................................................................... 15 .Influencing Inside and Outside the Organization...................................................................... 17 Communicate a Positive Vision............................................................................................................... 17 Help Staff Personally Feel Problems...................................................................................................... 18 . Gain Support of Key Influencers........................................................................................................... 18 .Measuring, Reporting (and Improving)....................................................................................... 21 Measure and Report Progress Frequently.......................................................................................... 21 . Require All Decision Makers to Share Data and Problem Solve................................................. 22Annotated Bibliography................................................................................................................ 25 . 
  5. 5. Actions and Results INTRODUCTION Under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), schoolsthat fail to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for fiveconsecutive years must engage in “restructuring” to im-prove student learning. Under the law, districts can: 1. reopen the school as a public charter school; 2. replace all or most of the school staff, which may include the principal; 3. contract with an outside entity to operate the school; 4. turn the operation of the school over to the state educational agency; or 5. engage in another form of major restructuring that makes fundamental reforms. Each of these restructuring options is intended tousher in a significant shift in how the school is governed.But three - reopening as a charter school, contracting withan external management organization, and state takeover- are seldom attempted. Some states do not have charterschool laws, and other states have restrictive laws thatmake creation of a charter school dif-ficult. Similarly, some states do notallow state takeover of school, and What must happen for a turnaroundthe experience with state takeoveris limited and unimpressive. School to succeed? What actions must thedistricts also are reluctant to admit new leader take to get results?their own failure with the schools bychoosing one of these three options. During the 2005-06 school year (the most recent na-tional data available) approximately 600 schools entered 3
  6. 6. School Turnaroundsthe final stage of restructuring. Most dis- arise from the actions in order for studenttricts used “mild” interventions in these learning to improve?schools - the fifth “other” option - rather In 2007, the Center on Innovationthan the stronger interventions - such as and Improvement published School Turn-replacing a leader or staff. Even among arounds: A Review of the Cross-sectordistricts that use stronger interventions Evidence on Dramatic Organizationalin 2006, 42 percent appointed an outside Improvement2 that identified fourteenexpert to advise the school; 24 percent ex- leader actions associated with successfultended the school day or year; 14 percent turnarounds in the business, nonprofit,“restructured the internal organization of government,the school.” Only and education14 percent of all This report provides descriptive, real- sectors. Schoolrestructuring world vignettes that illustrate the actions Turnaroundsschools in 2005 provides a strongreplaced a signifi- that successful school leaders have taken overview of thecant portion of to turn around low-performing schools. recurrent leaderthe school’s staff, actions acrossand almost no these sectors anddistricts invited a handful of illustrative examples.private firms or state agencies to take overrestructuring schools or reopened the While School Turnarounds providesschool as a charter school.1 a useful conceptual framework of leader actions, education leaders are also eager Guidance from the U.S. Department for compelling examples of how thoseof Education in 2006 on districts’ use actions have played out in actual schoolof the “other” category made clear that turnarounds. As a result, this reportstates and districts need more direction provides descriptive, real-world vignettesin choosing this option, as it was typi- that illustrate for practitioners the actionscally chosen as a means of avoiding more that successful school leaders have takendramatic change. The staff and leader to turn around low-performing schools.replacement option - defined here as This resource tool begins by identifyinga school turnaround - has been largely and explaining the fourteen leader actionsunderused and recently sparked much associated with a successful turnaround.national interest. Next, descriptive vignettes are provided to The education literature on turn- illustrate each leader action. These vi-arounds is sparse. If districts choose gnettes were drawn from case studies doc-turnaround as a restructuring option they umenting successful turnarounds. Someshould not expect that they will get results vignettes relate to more than one actionby merely replacing the school leader. and are thus repeated where they apply.What then must happen in a turnaround For instance, Mullen & Patrick’s 2000situation for it to succeed? What actions case study of one of Alabama’s lowest-does the new leader take that get results? performing schools provides a particularlyWhat is the linkage between leader ac- poignant story of one school’s turnaround,tions and effective practices that must including details about the strategies that the principal used to dramatically increase 4
  7. 7. Actions and Resultsstudent performance. More information after their first year. Turnarounds deemedabout this and the other case studies from (initially) successful by the researcherswhich the vignettes were drawn appear in were those in which the schools madean annotated bibliography, beginning on Adequate Yearly Progress – a status thatpage 23. none of the ten had achieved for three years prior to the turnaround attempts. One important caveat is in order These schools may or may not be turn-about the definition of “successful turn- around success stories in the long-term.around.” Ideally, a school turnaround All that can be said is that the vignetteswould generate substantial gains in stu- captured here are from school turn-dent learning in year one that were then arounds deemed successful by research-sustained over time. In the literature ers at the time of their studies. Over time,reviewed here, however, case studies often as experience and research accumulates,were not able to take such a long term it will be possible to zero in on stories ofview. The Duke et al. (2005) study, for school turnarounds that were sustainedexample, examined 10 turnaround efforts over time. 5
  8. 8. School Turnarounds Turnaround Leader Actions Table Turnaround Leader Action What It Means Initial Analysis and Problem SolvingCollect & Analyze Data Initially, turnaround leaders personally analyze data about the organization’s performance to identify high- priority problems that can be fixed quickly. Later, they establish organization routines that include ongoing data analysis (see Measure and Report below).Make Action Plan Based on Turnaround leaders make an action plan so thatData everyone involved knows specifically what they need to do differently. This allows people to focus on changing what they do, rather than worrying about impending change. Driving for ResultsConcentrate on Big, Fast Successful turnaround leaders first concentrate on a veryPayoffs in Year One limited number of changes to achieve early, visible wins for the organization. They do this to achieve success in an important area, to motivate staff for further change, and to reduce resistance by those who oppose change.Implement Practices Even Turnaround leaders make changes that deviate fromif Require Deviation organization norms or rules – not just for change’s sake, but to achieve early wins. In a failing organization, existing norms and rules often contribute to failure. Targeted deviations to achieve early wins teach the organization that new practices can lead to success.Require All Staff to Change When a turnaround leader implements an action plan, change is mandatory, not optional.Make Necessary Staff Successful turnaround leaders typically do not replaceReplacements all or most staff. But they often replace some senior staff, particularly those who manage others. After the organization begins to show turnaround success, staff unwilling or unable to make changes that their colleagues have made leave or are removed by the leader.Focus on Successful Successful turnaround leaders are quick to discardTactics; Halt Others tactics that do not work and spend more resources and time on tactics that work. This pruning and growing process focuses limited time and money where they will have the most impact on critical results. 6
  9. 9. Actions and Results Turnaround Leader Action What It MeansDo Not Tout Progress as Turnaround leaders are not satisfied with partialUltimate Success success. They report progress, but keep the organization focused on high goals. When a goal is met, they are likely to raise the bar. Influencing Inside and Outside the OrganizationCommunicate a Positive Turnaround leaders motivate others inside and outsideVision the organization to contribute their discretionary effort by communicating a clear picture of success and its benefits.Help Staff Personally Feel Turnaround leaders use various tactics to help staffProblems empathize with – or “put themselves in the shoes of” – those whom they serve. This helps staff feel the problems that the status quo is causing and feel motivated to change.Gain Support of Key Turnaround leaders work hard to gain the support ofInfluencers trusted influencers among staff and community. They work through these people to influence those who might oppose change.Silence Critics with Speedy Early, visible wins are used not just for success inSuccess their own right, but to make it harder for others to oppose further change. This reduces leader time spent addressing “politics” and increases time spent managing for results. Measuring, Reporting (and Improving)Measure and Report Turnaround leaders set up systems to measure andProgress Frequently report interim results often. This enables the rapid discard of failed tactics and increase of successful tactics essential for fast results.Require all Decision Sharing of results in open-air meetings allowsMakers to Share Data turnaround leaders to hold staff who make key decisionsand Problem Solve accountable for results, creating discomfort for those who do not make needed changes and providing kudos to those who are achieving success. This shifts the focus of the organization’s meetings from power plays, blaming, and excuses to problem solving. 7
  10. 10. School Turnarounds 8
  11. 11. Actions and Results Initial Analysis and Problem SolvingCollect and analyze data Initially, turnaround leaders personally analyze dataabout the organization’s performance to identify high-pri-ority problems that can be fixed quickly. Later, they estab-lish organization routines that include ongoing data analy-sis (see Measure and Report). Ross Swearingen, principal at Brentwood ElementarySchool in Victorville, California conducted 600 informalteacher observations in a single school year. The focus ofhis observations were items such as students on tasks andstandards and strategies implemented. He tracked his ob-servations on a hand-held computer (Almanzan, 2005). Another principal explainedhis start at a new school: “I startedidentifying the needs of the school by Turnaround leaders personallyvisiting the building in order to take analyze data about the organization’san inventory of available resources performance to identify high-priorityand look at the physical plant itself.Then I met with individual teach- problems that can be fixed quickly.ers, and we examined test scores andother achievement data, disciplinedata, and attendance data. Together, we faced the ‘brutalfacts’ of what was working and what was not” (Duke et al.2005, p. 10). 9
  12. 12. School TurnaroundsLynne Patrick, principal of the lowest per- At Alcester-Hudson Elementary informing elementary school in Alabama, rural South Dakota, “teachers grew so“jokes that she had to become ‘a morning adept at using data that they were ableperson’ so that each child could be greeted to use formative assessments to monitorat the front door. On her notepad she each student’s learning in relation to staterecords who needs help, with whom she and district content standards. Midwayneeds to consult, and about what issues. through the 2003–2004 school year, theLynne makes use of this ritual to collect McREL consultants asked the staff to usedata to identify formative as-specific physi- sessment datacal and emo- Turnaround leaders make an action to predict per-tional needs… plan so that everyone involved knows formance on theLynne also uses upcoming statethis time to specifically what they need to do test. The teach-reinforce posi- differently. ers predictedtive thinking, that studentthe readiness to scores wouldlearn, and the decline; theychildren’s trust that she will work on their believed that as teachers they may have letbehalf” (Mullen & Patrick, 2000, p. 244). up on some of the efforts that had led to their initial success in 2002. This predic-Make action plan based on data tion energized the teachers to recommit Turnaround leaders make an action to their shared agreements, and in 2004,plan so that everyone involved knows spe- student scores on the state math andcifically what they need to do differently. reading tests again showed improvement”This allows people to focus on changing (Galvin and Parsley, 2005, p. 3).what they do, rather than worrying aboutimpending change. Principal Patrick in Alabama formed a faculty governance committee that At one school, the principal instituted worked with the state department assis-new benchmark tests and set aside time tance teams to develop their data analy-every nine weeks to carefully review the sis skills. The teachers, through a seriesresults with his faculty. “I have a notebook of workshops, became comfortable withwith the name of every student and how interpreting student performance on thewell he or she did on each test. I color- SAT-9 and developing individual plans forcode the students so I can quickly identify student academic development. Principalthe ones that need a little improvement Patrick also used the SAT–9 results toand the ones that need a lot of help in decide which academic areas to focus onorder to pass the state tests. My teachers each year. This enabled her to concentrateand I spend a lot of time identifying which on one problem at once—for example,items were missed most frequently on the reading in her first year at the school—andtests and figuring out how to reteach the working on other areas over time (Mullenmaterial before May” (Duke et al., 2005, & Patrick, 2000).p.16). 10
  13. 13. Actions and Results Driving for ResultsConcentrate on big, fast payoffs in year one, andsilence critics with speedy success Successful turnaround leaders first concentrate on avery limited number of changes to achieve early, visiblewins for the organization. They do this to achieve success inan important area, to motivate staff for further change, andto reduce resistance by those who oppose change. Silencingcritics with quick, visible results reduces leader time spentaddressing “politics” and increases time spent managingfor results. Rather than designing a comprehensive improvementplan to fix everything at once, “the leadership team at Al-cester-Hudson used data to focus on one problem at a time.For example, teachers in the primary grades jointly agreedon specific minimum test scores in reading comprehension(using the Developmental Reading Assessment to measurereading) as achievement targets forall students at each grade level. Aftera year of consistently focusing on Successful turnaround leaders firstinstructional goals and discussing concentrate on a very limited numberstudent achievement, the teachers of changes to achieve early, visiblewere gratified (but not surprised) to wins for the organization.see scores on the state standardizedtests rise significantly. With these‘quick wins’ under their belts, theteachers consulted the data again, derived a new focus fortheir improvement efforts, and consulted the research for 11
  14. 14. School Turnaroundsguidance about next steps” (Galvin and Principal Patrick “had the hallway floorsParsley, 2005, p. 4). professionally stripped and cleaned to eliminate the bad odor. Church volunteers repainted the red-and-purple hallways Principal Patrick in Alabama used sage green and off-white, soothing colors.results from state standardized tests to Exterminators sprayed the school anddecide which academic areas to focus on remained on con-each year. This tract.” Followingenabled her to these changes,concentrate on Turnaround leaders make changes the children be-one problem area that deviate from organization norms gan to take prideat a time—for in their building,example, reading or rules. and there hasin her first year been a markedat the school— decrease in graf-and adding other fiti and littering (Mullen & Patrick 2000,subjects over time. This focus may have pp. 238-39).contributed to its academic successes, asthe school moved from recognition as thelowest performing school in the district One principal noted, “I was deter-to the most improved (Mullen & Patrick, mined to get [the facility] fixed up before2000). students and staff arrived in August. I met with the custodial staff and central office administrators to understand who Another principal explained: “After was in charge of supervision and put ahearing several times from parents that it plan in place to get the school clean. Itakes too long to drop off and pick up their worked with the Parks and Recreationchildren, I worked with the traffic moni- Department to ensure that the gym andtors to speed up the process. I attacked playground areas were left clean whensimilar problems with cafeteria lines, the town used our facilities” (Duke et al.unloading the buses, and accounting for 2005, p. 21).students’ lunch payments. Although theseare small problems, fixing them makes thewhole school day more efficient and pays Students at another school beganoff in more satisfied parents” (Duke et al. walking in the hallways with their arms2005, p. 23). folded. This simple rule helped prevent behavior problems before they started and created a more conducive environment for Principal Patrick focused on providing teaching and learning (Charles A. Danaa warm, inviting atmosphere for students Center, 1999, p. 12).and school visitors when she took over thelowest-performing elementary school in Implement practices even if theyAlabama. This was a difficult task because require deviationon her first day at the school she poured Turnaround leaders make changesa roach out of her soft drink can and the that deviate from organization norms orstench in the hallways was overwhelming. rules—not just for change’s sake, but to 12
  15. 15. Actions and Resultsachieve early wins. In a failing organiza- had one 75-minute period every day fortion, existing norms and rules often con- electives instead of two 52-minute electivetribute to failure. Targeted deviations to periods. Because each grade level goes toachieve early wins teach the organization its elective block at a different time duringthat new practices can lead to success. the day, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders are never in the halls at the same time. In addition, there are no bells. At designated One principal experienced significant times, teachers walk their students toproblems with the computer-based bench- their elective classes. After electives, themark testing program in his district. In- elective teachers walk students back tostead of waiting for the district to resolve their teams” (Duke et al., 2005, p. 58).the technological glitches, he insistedinstead that the school use a paper-and-pencil test until the problems could be Principal Patrick realized that herresolved. This allowed school staff to ad- students would benefit, academically andminister and correct the tests themselves, socially, from the supports provided byand to analyze and use results much more year-round schooling. She prepared a casequickly (Duke et al., 2005). for changing the school year by survey- ing “key stakeholders about their views on year-round schooling—ranging from One principal explained that “our the students to guardians, churches, andhuman resources were not focused on the community organizations (e.g., YMCA).”needs of the students. Our instructional Through this process, she identified anassistants typically left school at 2:30 organization—the Boys and Girls Clubp.m., and our teachers at 3:00. Since we of America—for the students to attendhave a late bus during the newthat leaves at 3:30 breaks created byp.m., I worked the year-roundwith central office Targeted deviations to achieve early calendar. Prin-to extend teacher wins teach the organization that new cipal Patrickand instructional practices can lead to success. and the facultyassistant hours so research teamthat, when stu- analyzed the sur-dents need extra vey results, andhelp, we would have adult resources on finding that all stakeholders supported thehand after school” (Duke et al., 2005, p. move, presented the data to the board of23). education. When she first presented the case to the school board, “one member at the meeting argued that parents did not Though his request to the district was want to be on the year-round schoolingdeclined, one principal nonetheless made calendar because it interferes with churchsignificant adjustments to the school-day and vacation. The principal responded,schedule in order to reduce the number of ‘But did you talk to the parents of mydiscipline problems that were interrupt- school?’ to which the person replied, ‘No.’”ing students’ learning. “We blocked the Principal Patrick reminded the schoolelective courses so that each grade level 13
  16. 16. School Turnaroundsboard members that she had surveyed the pointments, conduct anger managementparents and community members working classes, and help parents apply for Med-with her school, and that they supported icaid and Kids First insurance. They alsothe change. “The request for the support helped involve parents in their children’sof year-round schooling for her school learning and problems as well as encour-was approved, despite opposition and the aged parents to become involved in therecent failure of a nearby White-majority school on parent boards and as classroomdistrict to win its own case.” (Mullen & volunteers (Mullen & Patrick, 2000).Patrick, 2000, pp. 247-8). Require all staff to change When a turnaround leader imple- Lynn Patrick, principal at the then ments an action plan, change is manda-lowest-achieving elementary school in tory, not optional.Alabama sought “solutions that match[ed]the actual needs of the children—regard-less of how unconventional or extreme the Principal Lynne Patrick focusedsolutions may [have seemed] to outsid- her teachers on creating better learn-ers.” In one case, ing conditionsprincipal Patrick through “studentresponded to a supervision,situation in her When a turnaround leader regular schoolschool where a implements an action plan, change is attendance, and10-year-old girl mandatory, not optional. respect for allbelieved she was children.” Lynnepregnant and guided fac-did not know ulty governancewho the father was by instituting a sexual committees to create faculty handbooksabstinence and STD education program that outlined the procedures necessaryfor selected students who were sexually to create these conditions. Through theseactive or at risk of becoming so (Mullen & handbooks and the principal’s guidance,Patrick, 2000, p. 237). for example, student supervision became a “high priority because some teachers would leave their classes without an- Principal Lynn Patrick noticed that other adult present. The principal workedmany of her students’ parents lacked against what she believed to be an unstat-telephones or transportation to take their ed philosophy for most of the teachers: Itchildren to health appointments she had was easier to tolerate bad behavior thanbeen arranging. To ensure that her stu- it was to teach the students” (Mullen &dents were healthy—and could thus take Patrick, 2000, pp. 240-41).greater advantage of their education—the Make necessary staff replacementsprincipal wrote grants to hire a nurse anda social worker full time. These new hires Successful turnaround leaders typical-were able to: dispense medicine, treat ly do not replace all or most staff. But theyinjuries, make home calls on children who often replace some senior staff, particu-stayed home sick, schedule health ap- larly those who manage others. After the organization begins to show turnaround 14
  17. 17. Actions and Resultssuccess, staff unwilling or unable to make students’ overall health and well beingchanges that their colleagues have made and prepared them to tackle their aca-leave or are removed by the leader. demic work (Mullen & Patrick, 2000). Do not tout progress as ultimate Early in Principal Patrick’s tenure, successforty percent of the staff changed at her Turnaround leaders are not satisfiedencouragement. “Four teachers were with partial success. They report progress,transferred to other schools, two resigned, but keep the organization focused on highand two retired, which resulted in a ma- goals. When a goal is met, they are likelyjor staff turnover in a short time. Those to raise the bar.teachers who were transferred understoodcurriculum and instruction, but theywere ‘burned out’ from trying to meet the At Alcester-Hudson Elementary in ru-heavy demands of this school, so [Patrick] ral South Dakota, faculty were not contentworked with the human resource depart- to rest after achieving some initial success.ment to transfer them to other schools. “After a year of consistently focusing onSeveral of the untenured teachers whose instructional goals and discussing studentactions toward the children were harmful achievement, the teachers were gratifiedwere ‘nonrenewed.’” These staff changes (but not surprised) to see scores on the“set the tone for a highly committed staff state standardized tests rise significantly.that makes decisions to benefit the chil- With these ‘quick wins’ under their belts,dren” (Mullen & Patrick, 2000, p. 243). the teachers consulted the data again, de- rived a new focus for their improvementFocus on successful tactics; halt efforts, and consulted the research forothers guidance about next steps” (Galvin and Successful turnaround leaders are Parsley, 2005, p. 4).quick to discard tactics that do not workand spend more resources and time ontactics that work. This pruning and grow-ing process focuses limited time andmoney where they will have the mostimpact on critical results. Principal Patrick chose to bring in ormake available several programs that metthe varied needs of her specific students.These programs, such as the sexual absti-nence and self-restraint program, angermanagement program, Saturday schoolfor academically strong students, summerschool for children who need extra aca-demic and social support, the Read Aloudprogram, and Peace Works, supported 15
  18. 18. School Turnarounds 16
  19. 19. Actions and Results Influencing Inside and Outside the OrganizationCommunicate a positive vision Turnaround leaders motivate others inside and outsidethe organization to contribute their discretionary effort bycommunicating a clear picture of success and its benefits. The school administration at Burke High School inBoston didn’t wait until the entire school improved theirbasic test scores before making the program more rigorousand offering classes that challenged the higher-performingstudents. Rather, they sought to change the norms underwhich Burke High School had been operating. Offering cal-culus before most students improved their basic math skillsadvertised different expectations about what school leadersbelieved their students were capable of and what courseswere appropriate for a poor, urban school. This positivevision looked beyond the current situation where Algebra Iwas the highest math course offered and ahead to the dayjust a few years later when 21 seniors graduated with a yearof calculus (Werkema and Case,2005). Turnaround leaders motivate others Principal Denise Peterson of by communicating a clear picture ofColin Powell Academy in Long success.Beach, California told her staffthat the prevailing feeling amongteachers that their students had itso tough at home that they could not push them too hard atschool would only perpetuate the cycle of poverty and rac- 17
  20. 20. School Turnaroundsism. “Once teachers began to hold their Gain support of key influencersstudents to high academic expectations Turnaround leaders work hard to gain(while still providing necessary support), the support of trusted influencers amongstudent achievement improved remark- staff and community. They work throughably and continued to improve every year” these people to influence those who might(Almanzan, 2005, p. 2). oppose change. Principal Patrick sought to encour- Denise Peterson at Colin Powell Acad-age pride in Black heritage and school emy, seeking to develop stronger relation-achievement among her entirely Black ships with students and their parents,student population. To promote read- drove to school bus stops to check in withing, the “Banana students, walkedReading Tree” home with kidsdisplayed the who lived innames of authors Turnaround leaders help staff local neighbor-and their books members put themselves in the shoes hoods, and goton each banana of the students they serve. to know parents.leaf. Student These personalreading respons- relationshipses accompany allowed her toeach book. Pride of Black heritage was deal with any discipline problems beforepromoted, in one way, through pictures they became bigger issues. Her presenceof African American leaders being promi- in the community even improved studentnently displayed throughout the school behavior at local businesses after school,(Mullen & Patrick, 2000). because kids knew she might be around.Help staff personally feel problems This improvement did not go unnoticed by local merchants who began to call the Turnaround leaders use various tac- principal instead of the police if there wastics to help staff empathize with – or “put a problem with the students (Almanzan,themselves in the shoes of” – those whom 2005).they serve. This helps staff feel the prob-lems that the status quo is causing andfeel motivated to change. Principal Patrick worked hard to counter the teachers who said the stu- dents thought she was weak and ineffec- Principal Lynda Christian of Horace tual because she didn’t “yell and paddle.”Mann Elementary School in Glendale, Principal Patrick strove to treat everyoneCalifornia memorably told her teachers to with respect and sought to build “trustlook at their class rolls and let her know with the children by visiting their homespersonally if there were any children on and driving them home whenever they feltthe lists that they were not capable of threatened, by talking with them aboutteaching (Almanzan, 2005). their problems and following through with solutions, and by showing that she was someone they could depend on.” It 18
  21. 21. Actions and Resultstook some time, over a year, but students aged parents to become involved in thelearned to communicate their problems school on parent boards and as classroomeffectively and to trust the adults in their volunteers (Mullen & Patrick, 2000, p.school (Mullen & Patrick, 2000, pp. 242).239-40). Principal Patrick realized that her Principal Lynne Patrick recognized students would benefit, academically andthe importance of school-community socially, from the supports provided bypartnerships to serve the whole child. year-round schooling. She prepared aShe sought out church partners to be case for changing the school year survey-involved in the school turnaround, and ing key stakeholders about their viewseight churches adopted the school as part on year-round schooling—ranging fromof a local church program called Strategies the students to guardians, churches, andto Elevate People (S.T.E.P.) Foundation. community organizations (e.g., YMCA).”Church volunteers repainted the hall- Through this process, she identified anways at the beginning of the school year organization—the Boys and Girls Club ofand “donated teddy bears for the ‘read- America—for the students to attend dur-ing buddy’ program, computers for the ing the new breaks created by the year-advanced grade levels, and funds for the round calendar. Principal Patrick and themajor clean-up of the school and other faculty research team analyzed the surveyprojects. They continue to provide for the results, and finding that all stakeholders‘clothing closet’ and such learning incen- supported the move, presented the datatives as the annual riverboat cruise for the to the board of education. “The requestsixth grade graduating class” (Mullen & for the support of year-round schoolingPatrick, 2000, p. 242). for her school was approved, despite op- position and the recent failure of a nearby White-majority district to win its own Principal Lynn Patrick noticed that case” (Mullen & Patrick, 2000, p. 247).many of her students’ parents lackedtelephones or transportation to take theirchildren to health appointments she had Burke High School had gone frombeen arranging. To ensure that her stu- being a school praised for its successesdents were healthy—and could thus take in 1990 to becoming the only New Eng-greater advantage of their education—the land school to lose its accreditation in theprincipal wrote grants to hire a nurse and entire century only five years later. Thisa social worker full time. These new hires was a direct result of the student popula-were able to: dispense medicine, treat tion increasing by 50%, the administra-injuries, make home calls on children who tive budget being slashed by 50%, andstayed home sick, schedule health ap- the teacher budgeting being cut by a thirdpointments, conduct anger management over that period. In order to rally politicalclasses, and help parents apply for Med- will to help improve the school, the head-icaid and Kids First insurance. They also master gathered parents, and they camehelped involve parents in their children’s up with a list of 45 demands to the dis-learning and problems as well as encour- trict. Parents threatened the district with a 19
  22. 22. School Turnaroundscivil rights lawsuit claiming unequal treat- are small problems, fixing them makes thement, and the headmaster pushed the new whole school day more efficient and payssuperintendent—not yet on the job and off in more satisfied parents (Duke et al.embroiled in the politics—to support extra 2005, p. 23).money going into the school and reduc-ing enrollment. It worked; the districtdoubled the school’s budget and the head- Northeastern University faced fallingmaster, Dr. Leonard, was able to bring enrollments in the late 80s that forcedon teachers and administrators prepared the new university president, John A.to turn the school around (Werkema and Curry, to restructure the entire budgetCase, 2005). and adjust to a lower enrollment target. This reduction necessitated administra- tive and faculty cuts. The president and Another principal explained: “After board of directors relied on a joint facultyhearing several times from parents that it committee to recommend cuts—in bud-takes too long to drop off and pick up their get items and positions in administrationchildren, I worked with the traffic moni- and faculty. Bringing the faculty on boardtors to speed up the process. I attacked for such tough decision making helpedsimilar problems with cafeteria lines, ameliorate the political costs of cutting sounloading the buses, and accounting for many positions and helped the faculty seestudents’ lunch payments. Although these the problems the university faced first- hand (Paul, 2005). Turnaround leaders work to gain the support of trusted staff and community members to influence others who might oppose change. 20
  23. 23. Actions and Results Measuring, Reporting (and Improving)Measure and report progress frequently Turnaround leaders set up systems to measure and re-port interim results often. This enables the rapid discard offailed tactics and increase of successful tactics essential forfast results. One principal made a habit of publishing student per-formance data on weekly benchmarks at the start of everyweek. “Now my teachers expect it at the start of every week.For example, I was at a conference at the beginning of oneweek and didn’t have an opportunity to publish the data.When I returned to school, they all asked, ‘Where’s thedata?’ They already had a copy of their own data, but theywanted to see the whole picture. Many teachers have begunto share the data with their students. They track the data inthe classroom so that the kids know how well they are do-ing” (Duke et al., 2005, p. 12). “Early on in the improvementprocess, the staff at Alcester-Hudson Turnaround leaders set up systems tolearned the cycle of school improve- measure and report interim resultsment: Study data, form hypotheses, often.plan and implement changes ininstruction, reallocate resources,and remeasure to determine changesin student learning….Data also became a vehicle for not-ing success and celebrating the achievements of the staff. 21
  24. 24. School TurnaroundsToday, instruction in the school revolves ning time. The principal obtained permis-around data” (Galvin and Parsley, 2005, sion from the county to grant 45 minutesp. 3). of additional contract time to make the arrangement possible (Duke et al., 2005,Require all decision makers to share p. 50).data and problem solve Sharing of results in open-air meet-ings allows turnaround leaders to hold At Alcester-Hudson Elementary, astaff who make key decisions accountable rural school in South Dakota, “the teach-for results, creating discomfort for those ers developed … “Working Wednesdays.”who do not make During thisneeded changes uninterruptedand providing Sharing results in open-air meetings two hour blockkudos to those shifts the focus from power plays, of time, class-who are achiev- blaming and excuses to accountability room, specialing success. This and problem solving. education, andshifts the focus Title I teachersof the organiza- met as a wholetion’s meetings group to discussfrom power plays, blaming, and excuses to instructional strategies and the needs ofproblem solving. individual students. Working Wednesdays played a significant role in making teach- ers aware of their own attitudes about stu- One principal instituted weekly grade- dent learning. As teachers saw how otherslevel meetings. Each week his teachers used strategies successfully, they becamegenerated tests in science, social studies, more aware of the learning potential ofmath, and reading, and compiled data all students. At the beginning of the work,sheets showing the results of the previous we often heard teachers attribute studentweek’s tests. The teachers used this data achievement to factors in the home envi-as the foundation for the team planning ronment or participation in special pro-for the upcoming week. “We examine item grams. As teachers shared strategies andanalysis and standards of learning strand proposed new ideas to get students “offreports for individual children. As a team, the list,” such comments became less fre-we work to determine why individual quent. Instead, conversations focused onchildren are not doing well on particular changes that teachers could make in theiritems” (Duke et al., 2005, p. 11). instruction” (Galvin and Parsley, 2005, p. 4). Teachers at another school meet for At Alcester-Hudson Elementary inone hour with the principal every week for rural South Dakota, “the leadership teama “targeted data in-service,” and gather proposed a number of ‘shared agree-for an hour with their colleagues four days ments,’ which various groups of teacherseach week to problem-solve in their con- discussed and in most cases accepted,tent areas. Three or four times per month to be consistent across their classrooms.the principal hosts targeted professional For example, all teachers in the schooldevelopment programs during team plan- 22
  25. 25. Actions and Resultsagreed to teach mathematics for one hour faculty member was not abiding by theseand 15 minutes each day; follow timelines shared agreements. The leadership teamfor completing various portions of the proposed—and all teachers agreed—to usemath curriculum; implement a rigorous regularly scheduled meetings to check inschedule of formative and summative as- with one another about whether everyonesessments in reading and math; and use was adhering to the shared agreementsguided reading strategies in grades K–3. and how they could support one anotherOne challenge for faculty was figuring in doing so” (Galvin and Parsley, 2005,out how to handle situations in which a pp. 2-3). 23
  26. 26. School Turnarounds 24
  27. 27. Actions and Results Annotated BibliographyAlmanzan, H.M. (2005, Summer). Schools moving up. Educa- tional Leadership, 62. Retrieved January 2008 from http:// www.ascd.org/portal/site/ascd/menuitem.459dee008f9965 3fb85516f762108a0c In extensive interviews with 18 formerly low-perform-ing schools in California and Nevada that had boostedstudent performance, school leaders shared the reasons fortheir success with consultants at WestEd’s Northern Cali-fornia Comprehensive Assistance Center. The consultantsidentified several common characteristics for turnaroundsuccess: ¬¬ High expectations of all students became a part of school culture. ¬¬ Performance data drove decision making. ¬¬ Developing a data-informed plan enabled the school to focus effort and limited resources on specific key goals. ¬¬ Interactive principal leadership ensured principals were in the classroom providing guidance to teach- ers and knew students personally. ¬¬ Embedding professional development into the school ensured that teachers began to work together collaboratively as a team. ¬¬ Aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessments within grade levels and across the school kept all the teachers on the same path to success. 25
  28. 28. School Turnarounds ¬¬ Reaching out to parents to meet parents’ needs: feeling comfort- Galvin, M., & Parsley, D. (2005). Turning able at the school, involving them failure into opportunity. Educational in their children’s education, and Leadership, 62. Retrieved January 2008 creating a sense of community. from http://www.ascd.org/portal/site/ ascd/menuitem.459dee008f99653fb8551 6f762108a0cCharles A. Dana Center. (1999). Hope for ur- ban education: A study of nine high-per- Alcester-Hudson Elementary forming, high poverty urban elementary School—a 150 student, K-6 school in SE schools. Austin: The University of Texas, South Dakota—was designated “in need Austin. Available on the web at: http:// of improvement” in 2001. The school, www.ed.gov/PDFDocs/urbaned.pdf 95% white with 26% qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch, represented the This study of nine high-performing small farming community that surround-high-poverty urban elementary schools of- ed it, and the continuity of the decliningfers preliminary explanation of the factors population meant that parents and ex-that contributed to the schools’ success, tended family attended the school them-based on interviews with school adminis- selves when they were kids. Mid-continenttrators, teachers, and parents, and visits Research for Education and Learningand observations at the school. (McRel) got involved as consultants and in three years, the students scoring profi-Duke, D.L., Tucker, P.D., Belcher, M., Crews, cient in math went from 45% to 95% and D., Harrison0Coleman, J., Higgins, J., et in reading from 55% to 100%. They ac- al. (2005, September). Lift-off: Launch- complished this dramatic improvement ing the school turnaround process in 10 through six key practices: Virginia schools. Charlottesville, VA: ¬¬ Distributing leadership Darden/Curry. Partnership for Leaders in Education. Retrieved January 2008 ¬¬ Developing shared expectations for from http://www.darden.virginia.edu/up- students loadedFiles/Centers_of_Excellence/PLE/ VSTPS-Final.pdf ¬¬ Getting hooked on data This report contains a collection of ¬¬ Focusing on one problem at a timestories by ten principals about their ef- ¬¬ Building a professional learningforts to turn around low-performing communityschools in Virginia, and an analysis of theinitial turnaround efforts by members of ¬¬ Turning a problem into an oppor-a research team from the University of tunity for growthVirginia. Examples from seven schoolsthat made adequate yearly progress undertheir turnaround leader—for the first timein at least three years—offer insight intothe changes that contributed to improve-ments in student learning. 26
  29. 29. Actions and ResultsMullen, C.A., & Patrick, R.L. (2000). The Paul, D. (2005). Higher education in com- persistent dream: A principal’s promis- petitive markets: Literature on orga- ing reform of an at-risk elementary urban nizational decline and turnaround. The school. Journal of Education for Students Journal of General Education, 54(2), Placed at Risk, 5(3), 229-250. Available— 106-138. Available online to Project in html form only—online at: http:// MUSE subscribers at: http://muse.jhu. findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0JSD/ edu/login?uri=/journals/journal_of_gen- is_6_62/ai_n13810321 eral_education/v054/54.2paul.html Principal Lynne Patrick (co-author of This article looks at turnarounds inthis case study) turned around the lowest- higher education/university settings andachieving elementary school in Alabama— how they relate to corporate turnarounds.an all-Black, urban K-6 elementary school The author argues that universities have,identified as academically at-risk and in recent decades, become more impactedfacing state takeover. The students in this by market forces and have a more service-elementary school faced many challenges; oriented focus. At the end of the article,violence, abuse (sexual, physical, and Paul highlights two university turn-emotional), birth defects including fetal arounds in the face of these challenges,alcohol syndrome, incarcerated parents, NYU and Northeastern.drug addiction, sexual activity at a youngage, etc. This turnaround implemented Werkema, R.C., & Case, R. (2005). Calculuseight strategies for improving the school’s as a catalyst: The transformation of anclimate: inner-city high school in Boston. Urban ¬¬ Apply a philosophy of discipline Education, 40, 497-520. Available online and management to Sage Journals Online subscribers at: http://uex.sagepub.com/cgi/content/ab- ¬¬ Rely on and develop support sys- stract/40/5/497 tems Werkema and Case provide a case ¬¬ Precipitate staff changes study of Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Boston—a poor urban school with 97% ¬¬ Create rituals of visibility and rela- students of color, three quarters of stu- tionship dents from economically challenged fami- ¬¬ Apply Maslow’s “Hierarchy of lies, and performing last of all of Boston’s Needs” model high schools on the state’s achievement exam, MCAS. The school had 1000 stu- ¬¬ Design new educational and reme- dents, only one guidance counselor, and dial programs no librarian. ¬¬ Implement teacher development This case study follows the school’s standards transformation after losing its accredita- ¬¬ Develop a case for year-round tion in 1995 with Algebra I as the high- schooling est math class available to a school that graduated 21 seniors with a year of cal- culus in 2000. The case study focuses on a calculus class specifically because 27
  30. 30. School Turnaroundsimplementation of such a course was only provide rigorous coursework. The school,possible by transformations made in the in 2000, had strong student attendance,political, technical, and normative aspects increased the number of students takingof the program. Politically, resources were the SATs by 20 percent (to just 5% be-focused on the new goal of developing a low the statewide average), and had beenrigorous curriculum; normatively, teach- improving its MCAS scores at a faster rateers were required to believe their students than the district’s average scores. Onecould achieve; and technically, teachers hundred percent of the 2001 graduatingwere hired with the skills and expertise to class was accepted by an institution of higher learning.1Center on Education Policy, From the Capital to the Classroom: Year Four of the No Child Left Behind Act. (Washington, DC: Center on Education Policy, 2006). Available online at <http://www.cep-dc.org/nclb/Year4/CEP-NCLB-Report-4.pdf>.]2Public Impact, School Turnarounds: Cross-Sector Evidence on Dramatic Organizational Im- provement (Lincoln, IL: Center on Innovation and Improvement, 2006) ; Kowal, J. & Has- sel, E. A., What Works When: Turnarounds with New Leaders and Staff. (Washington, DC: Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement, 2006). 28
  31. 31. Actions and ResultsFor more information on schoolturnarounds and related topics, please see: www.centerii.org 29
  32. 32. School Turnarounds 30
  33. 33. For more information please contact: Center on Innovation & Improvement Twin paths to better schools. 121 N. Kickapoo Street Lincoln, Illinois 62656 217-732-6462 217-732-3696 www.centerii.org

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