Turnaround without turnover?

Education Week reports on the final version of RTTT, which is less restrictive than the draft version on allowing districts to turn schools around without total staff dismissal, school closure, or privatization via charter school. The draft had allowed that option only if it was not “feasible” to use the other three methods clearly preferred by Duncan.

However, even in the final version, the less radical model may be used in no more than 50% of targeted schools in districts like Chicago with more than 9 “failing” schools.

Ed Week points to a Chicago model, currently being implemented in 10 CPS schools  by Strategic Learning Initiatives (SLI), which suggests that schools can be improved without harming children or adults.   

SLI CEO and long-time PURE member John Simmons told Ed Week, “We really don’t see much in the research that says the
people in the buildings are the problem. What we find is
that it’s the systems that are the problem.”

“Strategic Learning uses a ‘performance management’ approach that
emphasizes shared leadership, professional development, ongoing support
for teachers to change instructional practices based on frequent
assessments of student learning, and parent engagement. The
program also organizes the schools into networks, so that teachers can
collaborate and swap ideas for improvement with their colleagues at
other campuses.”

An independent review of the program, which is called Focused Instruction Process, concluded that “well before decisions are made to reconstitute schools under the
mandates of NCLB, school districts would be wise to consider far less
drastic, but clearly powerful, interventions such as the Focused
Instruction Process

Read SLI’s report of their program’s first two years here, and the independent validation study of the program’s positive results here

A rhetorical question

So, why no attention to this good news from the local media? 

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.