Center on School Turnaround

The U.S. Department of Education selected WestEd as the lead agency to operate the Center on School Turnaround (Center). The Center is part of a federal network of 15 Regional Comprehensive Assistance Centers and seven national Content Centers.

Through the Center, WestEd and its partners—the Academic Development Institute, the Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education at the University of Virginia, and the National Implementation Research Network—focus on building the capacity of state education agencies (SEAs) to turn around chronically low-performing schools.

To help build states’ capacities, the Center provides technical assistance and identifies, synthesizes, and disseminates research-based practices and emerging promising practices.

The Center’s four primary objectives are:

  • Help SEAs develop and align policies, procedures, and resources to create a pro-turnaround statutory and regulatory environment
  • Build capacity of SEAs to effectively administer and manage school turnaround-related programs
  • Support SEAs to deliver targeted and timely technical assistance to districts and schools working on turnaround efforts
  • Assist SEAs to build the political will to overcome reluctance and resistance to making the hard decisions and doing the hard work to turn schools around

Meeting these four objectives will realize the goal of increased SEA capacity to support schools and districts in turning around their lowest-performing schools.

The Center work plan is organized around focus areas that are derived primarily from identified needs of schools and districts. The activities undertaken in each focus area are designed to help states build capacity to implement state-level initiatives and support district- and school-level initiatives to meet those local needs.

The Center’s focus areas are:

  • Developing SEA staff capacity and SEA organizational structures
  • Building district capacity
  • Creating policies, incentives, and partnerships to ensure a pipeline of turnaround leaders
  • Promoting cooperative labor-management relations
  • Promoting the use of expanded learning time
  • Creating systems and processes to ensure a pool of high-quality turnaround partners
  • Ensuring the availability and use of data systems at the SEA level
  • Supporting schools and districts in establishing a positive school climate
  • Monitoring and evaluating school turnaround efforts
  • Improving capacity of school boards to support turnarounds
  • Engaging families and communities
  • Building political will for dramatic change

The Center also runs the School Turnaround Learning Community (STLC —  formerly housed within the U.S. Department of Education), which provides a range of school improvement resources and connects users with specialists and other educators to share school turnaround research and promising practices.

For more information on the Center on School Turnaround at WestEd, send us an email at

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