School Turnaround

"MIE fit perfectly with my goal of building the capacity of teachers and leaders in my corporation.” – David B. Smith, superintendent, Evansville Vanderburgh School, IN

We partner with states and districts nationwide to turn around low-performing schools by transforming their policies and structures.


MIE partners with school districts and state education agencies to redesign the way they support their lowest-performing schools, based on the premise that dramatically and systemically improving our nation’s failing schools happens first by fixing policies, structures, and incentives surrounding state and local systems. This approach is outlined in The Turnaround Challenge, which MIE published in 2007 as a call-to-action on the need for intervention in America’s lowest-performing schools.

By focusing on a mutual commitment to dramatically improve student achievement through establishing clear goals and metrics, MIE positions its partners to build internal capacity and ensure the sustainability of interventions. When schools, districts and states partner with MIE, they join an effective practice network that connects them with other schools, districts and states across the country that are engaged in similar reform efforts.


This is a list of school turnaround services provided by MIE. If you are a state education agency, school district, or school and would like to learn more about these services, click here to download a detailed overview.

Partnership Zone Initiative

Partnership Zones are three- to five-year performance-based partnerships established to create sustainable and scalable strategies for turning around clusters of low-performing schools within a district. These clusters are empowered to establish model organizational practices, including strong partnerships and more flexible operating conditions. They are managed by a Lead Partner, which is a nonprofit entity or independent subunit of the district.

The District Diagnostic

The District Diagnostic evaluates a district’s readiness to pursue organizational reforms that will transform its governance and management structures to create a streamlined and adaptable organization. Through data collection, analysis, and an extensive series of site visits, MIE assesses a district’s overall functionality and performance and provides a manageable set of recommendations to promote organizational excellence and drive gains in student achievement.

The School Readiness Assessment

The School Readiness Assessment (SRA) determines a school’s readiness to ensure the success of all of its students. The SRA process assesses a school’s overall performance and effectiveness according to research-based criteria outlined in MIE’s High-Poverty, High-Performing (HPHP) school readiness framework, which focuses on three dimensions: 1) readiness to teach; 2) readiness to learn; and 3) readiness to act.

Additional Services

In addition to our core services listed above, MIE engages with districts and states on short-term projects. Examples include working with districts to redesign their human resources function and systems; auditing their organizational structure in preparation for a redesign, and providing support in engaging with key community stakeholders. MIE also has worked at the state level, collaborating with state education agencies to improve their capacity to serve as effective supporting partners to district reforms.


  • Jefferson Parish, Louisiana — According to the 2014-2015 District Report Card issued by The Louisiana Department of Education, the number of failing schools in Jefferson Parish, where MIE has been working since 2012, has decreased by more than half–from 50 to 22–since 2011. The district rating also improved from a “D” to a “B.” Here is a link to the Superintendent’s message about these gains in the district’s January 2016 e-newsletter.
  • In Evansville, Indiana, where MIE has been working since 2012, the school system experienced the largest gains in the state’s accountability system and is now the highest-performing large, urban school district in the state, and the number of failing schools has decreased by approximately 50 percent.
  • In Providence, Rhode Island, MIE conducted a three-year capacity-building project where it 1)improved the process for monitoring schools to better align state requirements with district supports; 2)led the development of the Office of Transformation and Innovation, which supports schools turning themselves around and incubating new school; and 3)analyzed central office supports to schools, culminating in a report to the City of Providence about the need to transform the central office.

Where We Work

MIE’s School Turnaround Group is currently working with districts and schools in the following states:

  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Pennsylvania
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