District in Turnaround

Harvard Graduate School of Education – “New research by Ed.D. candidate Beth Schueler, co-authored by Associate Professor David Deming and Harvard Kennedy School Associate Professor Joshua Goodman, demonstrates the direct impact of a state takeover of a public school district — specifically Massachusetts’ takeover of the Lawrence Public Schools —  on student performance and outcomes.

The study, Can States Take Over and Turn Around School Districts? Evidence from Lawrence, Massachusetts, released this month as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, showed substantial achievement gains in math and modest gains in reading among Lawrence students when compared to other low-income school districts.

“While researchers can point to several successful efforts to improve individual schools serving primarily low-income students, examples of district-wide turnaround have been frustratingly few and far between,” said Schueler. “Lawrence is an exciting case because it provides an encouraging proof point that accountability-driven improvement of a chronically low-performing school district is indeed possible.”

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