New CEP Reports Address SIG Challenges and Strategies

The Center on Education Policy at George Washington University surveyed 46 states on their experience with School Improvement Grants, looking at staffing, time, and climate.  Of the 46 states, 29 had schools opting for the turnaround method.  Alyson Klein of EdWeek explains the three new reports, which use survey data and case studies to discuss challenges and strategies used to overcome those obstacles.  Lessons include:

  • Change school climate before starting in on other requirements for SIG funding;
  • Increased learning time is just as important as staff and culture, but most states agreed that the best strategy varied among schools, and that it is still too early to draw conclusions about best practices.
  • Replacing school staff remains the most challenging aspect to implementing turnaround and transformation models, but can be mitigated by partnering with universities or outside organizations.

Most states with schools using the turnaround model found the requirement to replace school staff is a “key element to improving student achievement.” We agree.

Laying our 3 Cs over these findings, conditions are covered—many of the schools focusing on changing their climate find that a shift in student and staff attitudes can make all the difference. Capacity is often harder to tackle, but replacing staff as well as the principal will lead to results.  See our Lead Partner Playbook for a detailed how-to on how districts can develop home-grown expertise.  Unfortunately, these reports didn’t really touch on clustering, which as we’ve discussed, is central to successful turnaround and to providing students with seamless pathways from kindergarten through high school.