Our mission is to dramatically improve, at scale, student achievement in our country's lowest-performing schools by fundamentally transforming the state and local education systems and policies that manage and serve these schools.
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.
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. By 2012, the School Turnaround Group will work 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.”
The Partnership Zone is a hybrid model, combining flexible, charter-like operating conditions, clustering of schools, and increased capacity and scalability of the traditional public school district system. A Partnership Zone is comprised of at least three high-need, low-performing schools. Districts, with the help of the STG, identify Lead Partners to oversee the turnaround process. Lead Partners are either independent non-profit organizations (e.g. an education management organization) or subunits of the district central office. Lead Partners sign contracts with either the district central office or the state to lead the turnaround efforts of a cluster of schools.
We work with school districts and state agencies to design and create “Partnership Zones.” Teams are deployed to support a phased approach to implementation that includes, but is not limited to:
- Establishing flexible operating conditions that give district and school leaders more control over people, budget, staffing, and programs in exchange for increased accountability for gains in student achievement;
- Building capacity for turnaround by recruiting and developing Lead Partners, organizations with a special expertise in school turnaround that sign performance contracts with states or districts to transform clusters of low-performing schools; we both attract existing organizations and build new ones; and
- Restructuring state and local educational agencies to serve and support schools by breaking down needless bureaucratic barriers, targeting financial and human resources to the most needy schools and students, and aligning accountability systems and supports.
These strategies are embodied in our Partnership Zone framework for school turnaround. This framework offers the best of both worlds: the flexible operating conditions of charter schools coupled with built-in infrastructure, size and scalability of school districts.
The effectiveness of our field work is bolstered by a number of critical support activities:
- Research and development: Developing practical, research-based toolkits that provide step-by-step guidance to state and local leaders, building on our nationally recognized research study, The Turnaround Challenge;
- Communications and advocacy: Communicating and advocating for both our principles and strategies through targeted outreach to key stakeholders, including convening networks of like-minded individuals and organizations to jointly problem-solve and encourage each other to act boldly; and,
- Partnership and field building: Identifying and partnering with like-minded organizations in the field, with a particular focus on identifying and incubating effective Lead Partners