IES Examines States’ Capacities to Support School Turnaround

As a part of a study of the effectiveness of School Improvement Grants (SIGs) and Race to the Top (RTT), the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) examined the programs impact on helping states build their capacity to turnaround low-performing schools. Unfortunately, despite the priority placed on improving these schools, the IES found that states did not have the expertise or the capacity to support these initiatives. However, the report also states that further investigation is needed in this area to understand more about the infrastructure and systems for school turnaround.

Key findings

  • More than 80 percent of states made turning around low-performing schools a high priority, but at least 50 percent found it very difficult to turn around low-performing schools.
  • Thirty-eight states (76 percent) reported significant gaps in expertise for supporting school turnaround in 2012, and that number increased to 40 (80 percent) in 2013.
  • More than 85 percent of states reported using strategies to enhance their capacity to support school turnaround, with the use of intermediaries decreasing over time and the use of organizational or administrative structures increasing over time.
  • States that reported both prioritizing school turnaround and having significant gaps in expertise to support it were no more likely to report using intermediaries than other states, but all 21 of these states reported having at least one organizational or administrative structure compared with 86 percent (25 of 29) of all other states.

The proposed ESEA reauthorization from Alexander and Murray does include SIGs but not RTT. A recent report from the Council of Great City Schools showed that 70% of low-achieving urban schools receiving School Improvement Grants showed progress over the past three years.

Read State Capacity to Support School Turnaround from the IES.

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Education Policy