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The anatomy of a successful turnaround school

Though the final data for turnaround schools will not be released until later this year, the American Institutes of Research, Policy Studies Associates, the Urban Institute, and Decision Information Resources have collaborated to share an initial review of what makes a turnaround school successful.

The organizations found several key factors in taking a low-performing school and changing it to a more successful one with the momentum to keep improvements. The study included schools with the lowest 5 percent of performance in Florida, North Carolina and Texas, with achievement in the bottom 15th percentile for that state and less than 40 percent student growth over time in both reading and mathematics.

About half the schools identified as initially low-performing were able to show some signs of improvement within three years; another 35 percent showed no increase in student-achievement status or growth. But the study found 15 percent of schools were true turnarounds: They improved the number of students reaching proficiency in math or reading by at least 5 percentile points, with student growth rates in the 65th percentile statewide.

Turnaround rates varied considerably by state and subject, with schools much more likely to improve poor performance in mathematics than in reading, and only 3 percent to 4 percent able to improve in both subjects at once. Those two-subject-turnaround schools were more likely than other schools to report low turnover of highly qualified teachers and more technical assistance with data use.

Read more about the study in Education Week.

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