The School Turnaround Group

What is the STG?

The School Turnaround Group (STG) is a division of Mass Insight Education, a national nonprofit dedicated to closing the achievement gap by turning around our country’s lowest performing schools. The STG partners with school districts and state education agencies to redesign the way they support their lowest-performing schools. In 2007, Mass Insight published The Turnaround Challenge, a call-to-action report that highlighted the need for intervention in America’s lowest-performing schools.

What does the STG do?

Our work is based on the belief that we can dramatically and systemically improve our nation’s failing schools by first fixing policies, structures, and incentives surrounding state and local systems. The STG hopes to accomplish this work through the development of Partnership Zones.

What is a Partnership Zone?

A Partnership Zone is a hybrid model that combines “the three Cs” of turnaround: flexible, charter-like operating conditions, clustering of schools, and increased capacity through the use of Lead Partner organizations. Districts, with the help of the STG, identify Lead Partners to oversee the turnaround process. A Partnership Zone ideally includes a high school and its feeder schools, and is managed by a Lead Partner, which is either a nonprofit entity or independent subunit of the district.

What is a Lead Partner?

A Lead Partner fulfills the “capacity” constraint of Mass Insight’s 3 Cs. A Lead Partner can be an independent nonprofit or an autonomous subunit of a district central office, but all Lead Partners share the following characteristics:

  • The organization has signed a 3-5 year performance contract for student achievement with the district or state;
  • The organization has assumed authority for decision making on school staffing;
  • The organization has agreed to provide core academic and student support services either directly or through subcontracted “Supporting Partners”; and
  • The organization has an embedded, consistent, and intense relationship with each school—including physical presence—during the turnaround period for 5 days per week.

The Challenge

Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of students – who are disproportionately minority and low-income – are trapped in persistently low-performing schools. While some schools are beating the odds, these represent isolated success stories. If we are to dramatically and systemically improve our nation’s failing schools, we must first fix the state and local systems, including structures, policies, and incentives, that are fundamentally broken. The School Turnaround Group is working with states and districts to establish 6-10 “Partnership Zones” for school turnaround, characterized by flexible operating conditions and new capacity in the form of “Lead Partners.”

Turnaround Forum

Mass Insight's Turnaround Forum offers a thoughtful and extended look at what’s working, what’s not, and what’s possible in transforming the nation’s lowest-performing schools. Our issue briefs and blogs feature commentary, news, research, practical tools, and (we hope) lively discussion from some of the top practitioners and opinion leaders in the country. We’re hoping to provide a platform for many voices — people like us who believe we have a truly unique chance to turn around the country’s worst schools and who want to make sure we’re being bold and bright enough to take advantage of the opportunity.

The School Turnaround Group