Turning and turning

Turning around low-performing schools isn’t easy, conclude two new Center for American Progress reports.

In A Snapshot of SIG: A Look at Four States’ Approaches to School Turnaround, Jessica Quillin outlines how California, Tennessee, Illinois, and North Carolina have spent federal School Improvement Grants to improve their most underperforming schools.

Melissa Lazarin focuses on charter turnaround efforts in Los Angeles and Philadelphia in Charting New Territory: Tapping Charter Schools to Turn Around The Nation’s Dropout Factories. Only 5 percent of SIG schools, including 11 high schools, have chosen to restart as charter schools. But Green Dot’s takeover of Locke High in Los Angeles and Mastery Charter‘s takeover of Shoemaker Middle School in Philadelphia show the potential.

While charter high school students don’t post higher test scores than comparable students at district schools, they’re 7 to 15 percentage points more likely to graduate and earn a high school diploma, according to a recent RAND report.

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Comments

  1. I still don’t understand what “potential” the Locke turnaround model holds. Safety is important, reducing the dropout rate is laudable, and getting more students to sit for state exams and more challenging classes is wonderful, but Locke’s test scores and college readiness measures have barely moved.

    And then there’s the elephant in the room–bewilderingly, the Lazarin report doesn’t mention the extra $15 million Locke is getting in private money. More bewilderingly, it cites Sam Dillon’s Times article where that figure was first reported, but it does so to identify the percentage of old Locke teachers who were rehired by Green Dot. Locke is getting roughly $2500 in private money per student, per year, for the four-year-term of the turnaround. Is this even remotely scalable? How is Locke using this money? How will Locke’s programs and facilities be affected if/when the money runs out?

  2. LSquared says:

    I’m worried about this too:

    “While charter high school students don’t post higher test scores than comparable students at district schools, they’re 7 to 15 percentage points more likely to graduate and earn a high school diploma”

    That makes me worry that what they’ve done is lower the expectations/requirements for graduating. I’m not sure that’s an improvement.