The Center for American Progress recently released a report naming five key principles present in successful school turnarounds: high expectations, resources in addition to accountability, skilled leaders, decisions informed by data, and strong school culture that believes in every child’s ability to succeed. The report draws on national research studies and turnaround examples from across the country, but these same factors are resulting in school improvement in Massachusetts as well.
Closer to home, Commonwealth Magazine discusses how the groundbreaking school district receivership in Lawrence created a new paradigm of turnaround. By design, the Lawrence school turnarounds utilize many if not all of the criteria that are also highlighted in the Center for American Progress report. While counter-intuitive in some ways, the flexibility afforded to the state in the case of receivership can actually result in greater decision-making ability for individual schools. Empower Schools helped champion this in Lawrence and is working to advance a similar approach for the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership schools, through a combination of supports to leadership, strategic planning, and resources for implementation.
Together with communities and our partners, we can create the circumstances that allow schools and teachers to help their students excel in all schools. Students do not need to continue to struggle through underperforming schools while educators and political leaders wait for them to get worse before taking action. Turnaround can work when the right conditions are in place. Empower is working with communities across Massachusetts to create the right conditions and attracting the right supports and partners to ensure success.