The work of the WestEd School Turnaround Center draws from the following recent research focused on the process of turning around low-performing schools:
- Institute of Education Sciences practice guide on turning around chronically low-performing schools (Herman, et al., 2008).
- Anthony Bryk and John Eastonís book on school reform efforts in Chicago (Bryk, et al., 2010).
- A recent study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education describing 11 initially low-performing elementary and middle schools receiving support under the federal Comprehensive School Reform program that were able to make dramatic improvements in academic performance (US Department of Education, 2010).
Because relatively little research has been done in turnaround schools, WestEd School Turnaround Center also draws significantly from research on "beating the odds" schools. We know that these schools share the following six characteristics, and have organized WestEd's approach to school turnaround and transformation around them.
- They have effective school leadership (US Department of Education, 2010; Bryk, et al., 2010; Picucci, et al., 2002).
- They operate with a cadre of high quality, committed teachers (Bryk, et al., 2010; Lachat and Smith, 2005).
- They provide a rigorous, standards-based curriculum and use formative assessments to understand student learning and guide instruction (US Department of Education, 2010; Tung and Ouimette, 2007).
- They incorporate targeted, ongoing professional development to ensure instructional quality (Bryk, et al., 2010; Johnson and Asera, 1999); Conzemius, 2000).
- They have created a safe school environment and a supportive climate of mutual trust, both within the school and with parents and the community (US Department of Education, 2010; Bryk, et al., 2010; Herman, et al., 2008. Johnson and Asera, 1999).
- They align all of their fiscal and human resources to support student achievement (Bryk, et al. 2010).
- They engage families to support the education of their children and to work in partnership with teachers, principals and other administrators to ensure the effective implementation of education programs and services (US Department of Education, 2010; Gordon and Louis, 2009; Talley and Keedy, 2009).
Lastly, our approach to implementation is guided heavily by the work of Dean Fixsen and his colleagues at the National Implementation Research Network (Fixsen, et al., 2005).
- Bryk, A.S., Sebring, P.B., Allensworth, E., Luppescu, S., & Easton, J. Q. (2010). Organizing schools for improvement: Lessons from Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Conzemius, A. (2000). Framework. Journal of Staff Development. 21 (1): 38-41.
- Fixsen, D. L., Naoom, S. F., Blase, K., Friedman, R. M., & Wallace, F. (2005). Implementation research: A synthesis of the literature. National Implementation Research Network, University of South Florida, Louis de la Parta Florida Mental Health Institute. Available online at http://nirn.fmhi.usf.edu/resources/publications/Monograph/
- Gordon, M.F. and Louis, K.S. (2009). Linking parent and community involvement with student achievement: Comparing principal and teacher perceptions of stakeholder influence. American Journal of Education, 116, 1-31.
- Herman, R., Dawson, P., Dee, T., Greene, J., Maynard, R., and Darwin, M. (2008). Turning around chronically low-performing schools: A practice guide (NCEE #2008-4020). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/publications/practiceguides.
- Johnson, J.F., and Asera, R. (Eds.) (1999). Hope for urban education: A study of nine high-performing, high-poverty, urban elementary schools. Washington, DC: Policy Studies Associates and The University of Texas at Austin, The Charles A. Dana Center.
- Lachat, M.A., and Smith, S. (2005). Practices that support data use in urban high schools. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 10 (3): 333-339.
- Picucci, A.C., Brownson, A., Kahlert, R., and Sobel, A. (2002). Driven to succeed: High-performing, high-poverty turnaround middle schools: Volume I: Cross-case analysis of high-performing, high-poverty, turnaround middle schools. Austin, TX: The University of Texas at Austin, The Charles Dana Center.
- Talley, W.K. and Keedy, J.L. (2006). Assessing school council contribution to the enabling conditions for instructional capacity building: An urban district in Kentucky. Education and Urban Society, 38(4), 419-454.
- Tung, M., and Ouimette, R. (2007). Promising results and lessons from the first Boston District School converting to pilot status. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL. Retrieved from http://www.ccebos.org/BCLA_conversion_study.pdf
- U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Policy and Program Studies Service (2010). Achieving dramatic school improvement: An exploratory study. Washington, DC. Retrieved from www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/opepd/ppss/reports.html#title.