Last fall, the Mass Insight State Development Network (SDN) released a toolkit in which we identified the top ten “levers” that a State Education Agency (SEA) could use to strengthen and better support turnaround efforts at the school and district levels. The publication provided the reader with an in-depth understanding of each of the levers, and included a discussion protocol to flesh out the availability and use of the levers in a specific state. The levers cover topics such as competitive funding, tying awards to specific performance topics, using a single robust turnaround plan, creating conditions to place the best teachers in front of classrooms, and intervening when a turnaround plan isn’t proving effective.
This year, the SDN states members (which include CO, CT, DE, FL, IN, MS, NJ, NV, NY, PA, and VA) came together for a series of four one-day briefings to walk through a deep dive of specific topics. These discussions covered school turnaround networks, public metrics and goal-setting, revisiting the turnaround power levers, and supporting rural and isolated schools. The third briefing on the turnaround levers included discussion of effective turnaround support around the planning and funding levers, as well as discussion of the lack of existing evidence on the absolute best form of intervention. Based on the fruitful discussion at that briefing, the SDN is releasing a supplemental update to the power levers report, entitled More Bold, Less Bureaucratic: Revisiting Three SEA Power Levers for School Turnaround.
The specific levers discussed included:
- Encouraging flexible use of all available funds in turnaround schools;
- Requiring from each turnaround school a single, coherent, robust turnaround plan based on an analysis of need;
- Using state authority and capacity to take-over or close schools that fail to improve.
For the first two levers, we were able to identify SDN states using their power levers wisely and effectively, with clear lessons for other states. As for the third lever, which is more complicated, we brainstormed options SEAs might use when nothing else is working. Take a look at our newest publication to learn more!