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The Supply’s the Limit: Meeting the Challenge of Knowledge and Capacity Constraints to Significant Educational Improvement: A Presidential Essay

By Martin Orland


In this thoughtful essay, Martin Orland, former Director of Evaluation and Policy Research at WestEd, tackles the challenges policymakers face as they design and administer comprehensive school reform initiatives in the United States.

Orland describes both the rarity of successful and sustained turnaround and the complex and varying constellation of factors that appear to be associated with dramatic school improvement. He also examines the research base on the effectiveness of school turnaround strategies, and extrapolates some early lessons from highly effective charter school models.

Three key policy implications surface in this essay:

  • The need to develop a positive but realistic perspective on the role of successful charter school models in fostering school turnaround
  • The need to create more polices and programs that focus directly on knowledge limitations and financial, human, and social capital shortfalls that inhibit taking successful school turnaround to scale
  • The need to prioritize investments that hold promise for significantly enhancing the quality of teaching in the lowest performing schools, as well as securing the family and community supports that contribute to successful outcomes

This essay was published in the Winter 2011 issue of Education Finance and Policy.

Resource Details

Product Information

Copyright: 2011
Format: PDF
Pages: 17
Publisher: MIT Press