Turning Around Low-Performing Schools

“We need everyone who cares about public education to take on the toughest assignment of all: turning around our lowest-performing schools.”

That’s what Secretary Duncan said at a national charter schools conference yesterday. There are about 5,000 low-performing schools—about 5% of all schools in the U.S.—that fail our kids year after year. We have a moral obligation to try to fix these schools. And now, for the first time, we have the money: $5 billion dollars for turnarounds over 2 years.

He described 4 approaches for turning around schools:

  1. Award planning grants in the fall so new principals and lead teachers can develop curricula to meet students’ needs. During the spring, they begin recruiting teachers and in June they take over the school. Current teachers can reapply. Some get rehired, but most go elsewhere.
  2. Turn the school over to a charter or for-profit management organization. This approach also replaces school staff and leadership.
  3. Keep most existing staff but change the culture through:
    • performance evaluation and support, training and mentoring.
    • stronger curriculum and instruction.
    • more learning time for kids (afternoons, weekends, summer) and more time for teachers to collaborate.
    • more flexibility for principals in budgeting, staffing and calendar.
  4. Simply close under-performing schools and reenroll the students in better schools. This, Duncan noted, is a state and local responsibility. “But,” he said, “the people who run our schools—and the parents who depend on them—must demand change if they want it to happen.”

See more complete descriptions of these 4 approaches in Secretary Duncan’s remarks.

What do you think is the best way to turn around a low-performing school?

ED Staff

39 Comments

  1. I’ve read every comment, thus far. There is some truth in every one. I teach at in a school which has recently failed. I’m in my second year of teaching.

    I spend great amounts of time, money, resources and energy trying to do what I believe is right by my students, while simultaneously doing what is demanded of me by the powers that be. I admit to relying, on certain days, to scripted curricula, due soley to the fact that I am literally drained, even burned out on many days. Ordinarily, I hunt down my own resources and materials each week, as I work to create meaningful lessons—which is okay for awhile (even satisfying and exciting), but exhausting and expensive over the long haul.

    Grand amounts of time, money, energy, and resources. Yet, my school has failed. Grand amounts of time, money, energy, and resources. Yet, all too often my students are struggling with outside issues that are much more meaningful to them right NOW, than the current mandated guide-paced lesson on function tables with complex algebraic notation which I’d better be teaching, be there an administrative walk-throug to-day.

    They ask us to meet our students needs. [Insert suppressed clause here]: But not until we’ve covered the agreed upon concensus of all that we must instruct our youth in, which is basically everything; everything academic, that is. This, we must do first. Once finished with this, we may then turn to the real issues students face which are of genuine interest to them. But everything academic is like the knits lice lay in a child’s long, thick hair…as you stand there for hours picking them out, you realize with horror that there are an infinite number of knits, you know. And as the saying goes, there’s always one more. After awhile you despair of being finished.

    But even through the despair, I keep at it. I try not to listen much to the talk about how it’s the teacher’s who need reformed or replaced. In every profession there are the lazy, but if lazy incompetence is what I have been generalized to be, due to the fact that there exists in the world of education those few lazy incompetants?? If I am an ineffective teacher, I have come to one conclusion on the matter. I am ineffectively spinning my wheels and getting nowhere, all in the endeavor to make a progress I may just never achieve. Spinning my wheels. Exerting my efforts. Expending my energy. Staying up late at night…working evenings and weekends…Giving up my lunches…

    Whatever happened to the aged acolade, It takes a tribe?

    There is more to education than merely passing a standardized test. If this is what we are fighting against, I proudly stand in full salute. For the urgent needs of many high-risk students leave them little concerned with the future; but, instead, with the immediate and desperate conflicts and concerns they are struggling to resolve right NOW.

  2. Rather than lay all responsibility and/or blame on the teachers why don’t we make the students and parents responsible for a change. How can a mere teacher compete against parents who use school as daycare, allow for ditching, or take a month off before the Christmas break to go to Mexico?

    My brother’s poor grades were his fault, not the teacher’s. He choose not to work for higher grades, or participate in class. Since when are teachers magicians. I cannot make geniuses out of the lazy. Parents need to step up and take their share of the blame along with the little darlings themselves.

  3. As a public school teacher, I am very concerned about teachers becoming the sole focus of criticism in our educational system while the role of administrators is rarely mentioned or emphasized to the general public. Lower performing districts may often be run by substandard administrators, and many strong individual teachers are constrained by their weak administrations. I have a close friend who is an award winning teacher in a lower performing district who works for a principal who, in addition to many weaknesses, has never taught before, does not follow the basic rules of state testing, and never went over any testing procedures with the staff. This is just one example that I’m sure is duplicated across the country.

  4. By and large, the parents at my low income school do not value education for their children. Finding out why they don’t seems like a good place to start. Once you have a general idea, why not use some of those stimulus dollars to pay for advertising to persuade them to value it and to take advantage of it. A whole generation was taught not to litter through an ad campaign. Surely we can make a dent in this problem in the same way.

  5. Forget about politics and Praxis testing. If a person has a background in math or science, let them teach!

    If the person is making good progress and the kids are learning, don’t pull them off task just because you can. Let them continue while offering support instead of arrogance and pedagogy. In other words, let them teach!

  6. When we give principals all of the power to control curriculum, they typically provide that which fits within his or her philosophical and experiential purview. Some administrators maintain the belief that what worked for them 30 years ago will work now, without allowing for the changes in technology and global citizenship.

    Scripted programs are not the answer. Kids are bored, and when teachers try fill i what’s missing, the corrections from administrators are strong and unyielding. Stick to the script is not working. This isn’t a play…we are dealing with human beings – real live children who need flexibility, especially those who are in survival mode in lower SES schools.

    Let’s stop the madness, provide tools for those teachers who need help, and leave those alone who are standing on their own. Believe it or not, some of us were listening during our years of teacher education, and do research the materials we use. In this climate, with principals having total control over teachers, test scores are going down for many talented, honest teachers forced into this box, when thinking out of the box is what yields results.

    In addition, the incidence of abuse of the testing system is going unchecked. This is evident in the test scores of those who are lauded for their achievement, when three weeks prior to state testing, early indicator assessments had shown 50-60% failure rates. Administrators turn a blind eye to these false results, providing an opportunity to stroke themselves for their good choices in curriculum.

    It is with shame that I say we are not making progress, only providing the allusion of doing so. We need to teach children, not feed the egos of our administrators. Teachers are not the enemy. It is the very act of villainizing teachers that makes them turn to the union for protection. Those of us who are in this for the love of learning and teaching use it sparingly, if at all. The need for protection, however, is becoming more and more prevalent with the greater empowerment of administrators, and the stripping of teacher judgment that follows.

    Give us a chance to help right this mess. Coming from a low SES school district and providing 80-90% pass rates for ten years to 65-70% pass rates over the last two years’ of a new administration, I know what teachers can do when they work together without the chains that bind our skills and craft.

  7. Low performing schools? what about low performing governors, mayors, lawmakers, administrators, etc…? In my state, congressional lawmakers are given cars and gas mileage while teachers have to buy their own cars and gasoline. Congress can’t balance the budget or pay the bills. If you want to improve low performing schools, try putting your money where your mouths are.

  8. After President Obama helps the country positively deal with problems of health care, the economy, and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, America is likely to face the next challenge referred to in his presidential campaign by fully engaging in debate about improving education. The challenge to lawmakers and society in general will be how to increase graduation rates, raise levels of academic achievement to compete in a global economy, integrate technology into curriculum, and improve teachers’ professionalism, all while reducing costs to taxpayers and truly leaving no child behind.

    The 2004 reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act clarified the role of teachers in their relationship to paraeducators who work with students. It is time for the teaching profession to move to the next level by accepting responsibility for this role, and expanding it. Teachers’ responsibilities in all classrooms have gradually increased. Paraeducators can provide added support, not only to the teacher, but also to individual or small groups of students, under the teacher’s direction. If each teacher were assisted by at least one paraeducator, the student/teacher ratio in classrooms across America would in effect be cut in half.

  9. My child attends one of the richest districts in the country, Kansas City, MO. Our average per pupil exceeds $17,000. At her highschool only 11.4% of the students read on grade level and only 7.7% can do grade level math. The building budget, which is set and managed at the central office, was over $5 MILLION last year.
    Our surrounding districts employ excellent teachers and pay them less than we do. We’ve spent hundreds of millions on professional development, but have no accountability system.
    Our SEA rubber stamps our district plans and policies to avoid having to take over the district governance — they’ve already had to take over the St. Louis district. With fewer than 16,000 students, our budget for FY ’10 exceeds $300,000,000. Federal monies will be some $50,000,000.00 this year. With that kind of leverage, why not step up the monitoring of programs? We need accountability through monitoring, not more money to waste.

  10. I’m writing as a grandparent, who has seen some marvelous innovations in teaching at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School in Palo Alto. For example, in science class, each student took an element and had various options for representing that element. My granddaughter was Zinc, and made a tee shirt and board game illustrating the properties of zinc. The math teacher used a foil dance and a math basketball game to turn math into my granddaughter’s favorite subject. In video production, student’s wrote and directed a video clips and were able to give student announcements on closed circuit TV. At graduation every student did an exit interview with their portfolio to a panel of volunteers from the community.
    It would be great if teacher’s could have a national networking system where they could share with each other their challenges and best practices. Does one already exist? I would like some best writing practices for fourth graders who are native Spanish speakers, since I will be volunteering in the fall to work with these kids in my rural community.

  11. The only way for our nation’s education to improve is to make parents accountable. The school systems are not solely responsible for raising children. Teachers are tired of taking on the roles of being the mother, father, nurse, counselor, social worker, etc.. then the administration faults them because state testing down.

  12. Hello everyone, I would like to add a comment. I agree with lewis when he states that we have to look at the students environment, culture and many other factors. I would like to point something out, would it make more sense to fully prepare or educate our school counselors with more mental health training to assist at risk youths. To really counsel children in identifying their issues at home and school. I think instead of firing, rehiring, adding too many extra programs, why don’t we let the counselors counsel.

  13. How about giving the teachers the opportunity and support to teach? To often these schools labeled “failing” are then forced to completely focus all their attention on preparing students for the standardized test. With intense pressure from the district and administrative level students are then forced to endure months of test prep questions and practice. The result is that students are not learning anything but how to answer questions on test. They are not being exposed to engaging curriculum and they are not gaining a metacognitive understanding of the content. These students are simply not be given the chance to learn. I feel in order to be serve our students who are ‘at risk’ we need to be pulling away from historically failed practice of focused test preparation and focus on how to meet the individual needs of our students. Every student can learn and succeed if they are provided with the appropriate scaffolds. It is the job of the teachers, administrators, and community’s to ensure those supports are put in place.

  14. There is a need to mend the perception that schools and the for-profit market do not have the same expectations and hopes for our kids. We’re all members of our local communities. We respect our educators, or should, but we have specialties that can help.

    There is no one entitity, working alone, that can support every need of every child. We complain too much and reachout to little.

    When small education companies are used to support their local school district’s needs, we could build a focused and geographically interested community of adults working together to serve our children. For that matter, all types of local and small businesses could benefit by being providers to their local schools, and in turn, the interest and commitment the local businesses would have toward their local school systems would increase and a sense of community might be achieved.

    Perhaps we could make room for everyone at the table, not just those who have political capital or deep pockets. Our schools need help – have them do business locally. Relationships of that kind, have deeper roots than anything an assessment test might measure. Test us.

  15. I work in a medium-sized district in the southeast, with enough barriers to have provided plenty of excuses over the years. For the last couple of years, though, our district’s achievement has rapidly improved, and many of our high-poverty, low-performing schools have turned that corner. We have the data to support that, and so, from my perspective:

    1. Leadership is everything. It doesn’t matter what great idea you put in place, a high-quality leader makes or breaks the school. That leader must have a moral purpose and a never-quit attitude. In most of our schools, this was enough to start the improvement process.

    2. Programs and structural changes won’t fix a problem. Schools that turned around in our district finally said that out loud, and built their cultures around high expectations for all kids, and the conviction that what adults in those schools matters more than anything else. When those ownership cultures were formed, improvement occured. See #1, though, because the leader is essential to building that culture.

    3. The problem is really simpler than we wanted to make it to be. Teachers have to be crystal clear on what/how they’re supposed to teach kids to know and do, crystal clear on knowing if kids are learning it (on a daily basis), and crystal clear on how to extend/re-teach as necessary. Outside of this simple notion everything else can be a distraction, and our improving schools eliminated most of those distractions.

    4. Just as learning is social for kids, it’s social for teachers. The essential work unit has become “four teachers and a kidney table,” and although they laugh and cry together as they develop curricula and analyze student data, they also develop deep understandings of those simple concepts in #3 above. District staff support this work, and connect teachers across the district as they encounter similar problems (and successes).

    5. It’s the leadership (yes, on the list two times). The leaders in our “turnaround” schools get this, and see it as their essential function to build and support a learning culture in the schools, among kids AND adults.

  16. Big Picture sounds pretty interesting:

    “The schools are small and very different from traditional schools. MetEast has just over 100 students — less than one-tenth the enrollment at each of the city’s comprehensive high schools. The educators are called “advisers,” not teachers, and they advise the same group of students all four years.
    Classes are built around the idea that students will learn by following their passions. Students do internships. Graduation requirements include a senior project with the aim of doing some good for the community. And four times a year, every student makes a presentation to a panel that includes students and adults from outside the school.”

    According to the Big Picture website:

    “In the schools that Big Picture Learning envisioned, students would take responsibility for their own education. They would spend considerable time doing real work in the community under the tutelage of volunteer mentors and they would not be evaluated solely on the basis of standardized tests. Instead, students would be assessed on their performance, on exhibitions and demonstrations of achievement, on motivation, and on the habits of mind, hand, heart, and behavior that they display – reflecting the real world evaluations and assessments that all of us face in our everyday lives.”
    Worth a closer look, which I plan to take. If anyone has heard of these guys please let me know…

    Are options like this worth investigating? I think they are. Thanks, CF

  17. I have been thinking that the management of public school districts is arcane and possibly corrupt. Corrupt in the sense that the administrative bureaucracy is bloated, wastes precious resources and exists to perpetuate itself. I propose turning the model upside down–devolve administration of individual schools to self-policing teacher councils who liase directly with parents and the local community. I predict a policy analysis would anticipate at least a 35% savings in per student expenditure with exponential academic achievement
    gains. Think about it…why not?

  18. It is time for this nation to get back to basics… having a passion to educate children means all of us having the decision making capacity equally vetted. We develop policies, procedures and law to say this will benefit success, yet refuse to implement, be honest to say we messed up and we will correct. It is not about converting to charter, flexibility or incentives, it is about putting the READING, WRITING and “RITHMATIC” back. It is time for the parents to take control of their children and their schools in the proactive manner that helped established this nation, and build with the teacher and administrators. It is time for SEA and US DEPT of Ed not to be afraid to implement sanctions. As we discipline our children as parents, so shall the system be discipline. No more new ideas, build on what already WORKS!!!

  19. I agree with Lewis. We must meet the children where they are, and then begin to create, in our schools, the environment conducive for learning, where “all” children can thrive.

    The School Development Program (James Comer) addresses the needs of the whole child. It is up to the leaders in the school to set the tone for learning and success. This is done through building positve relationships with children and families.

  20. I teach at a low performing school in a low socio-economic area of a large rural county. Our majority population is Hispanic, yet these children (some of which speak little or no English) are tested in English only. Many of these students have parents who are illiterate in their native language, so there is no academic support at home. The reason we are a low performing school is that AYP is based on grade level proficiency, instead of growth. Some of my students have grown as much as 21 points in a year. That should certainly count for something.

    We are not low performing teachers. We are all very dedicated and well educated people who choose to teach children that carry around more baggage than most of us will ever experience in our entire lives. We need lots of support and inspiration from our administrators, and most of all, smaller class sizes so that we can reach our children on a more individualized level. Instead, we are punished for our efforts by losing teaching positions, which in turn makes class sizes go UP. The system we have now is counter productive to teaching in this type of environment.

  21. I agree with Carol on everything except number 2 and 3. We tried the grouping back in the old days. Every kid knew the blue birds and the red birds were developmentally different. Mixing ages in ability grouping would compound the negative psychological impact of this, in my opinion. I think schools should be K-8 and 9-12 with 9th grade academies to support transition into high school. We also need to train teachers more in Educational Psychology and motivation (and current best teaching practices) so that they can meet the needs of diverse populations because these factors directly impact learning.

  22. How to improve schools, low-performing and otherwise? Reform as in remake, recreate, rethink, redo, remodel. Our schools were formed for the 19th century industrial revolution. We are now fully into the technological revolution. Let’s move into the 21st century.

    1: Get rid of summer vacation. Very few of our students need three months off to help with the harvest. Run on a tri-mester system. Sept – Nov. December vacation. Jan – March. April vacation. May – July. August vacation. 12 weeks off, evenly interspersed, and increasing the number of days students are in school. Vacation months can be used for remediation as needed, and long term homework projects. Students won’t forget so much, or have long periods where they are not focusing on school work. It will also give them more consistency with discipline, many of whom do not get enough of this at home.

    2: Split the schools differently. Primary would be grades K-3, early secondary 4-6, junior secondary 7-9, senior secondary 10-12. This would more closely coincide with the stages of psychological/emotional development.

    3: Developmental pods. Students compiled into classes by developmental ability, not by age. This eliminates “social” promotion. Reading classes divided by “emergent” readers, “early” readers, “proficient” readers, “advanced” readers. Students progress according to ability, not according to age thereby providing more support to all levels. More of our students will become proficient in reading and math. And those with learning “disabilities” will get help sooner. Same for math, music, art, etc…

    4: Keep the electives, even when money is tight. We know about multiple intelligences, let’s use the knowledge we have to make our schools better learning environments. We know so much more about how the brain works than we did 150 years ago, let’s use this information to change our schools out of the factory model and into a new 21st century model.

    5: Technology in every classroom – give every student a laptop, or a kindle, to use in class. Teach keyboarding in the elementary level. Once a student learns to hunt and peck, it is much more difficult to learn to keyboard, and much more difficult to complete the volume of schoolwork that should completed by students in this day and age.

    6: Finally, don’t take the Humanity out of an age old humanistic institution called learning.

    Thank you for providing this opportunity to share my thoughts.

  23. The truth is that EVERY school is a low-performing school compared to what we are capable of doing. EVERY school can be dramatically improved. We need schools for The 21st Century Student. See http://tinyurl.com/ed-vision2

    Our schools aren’t nearly flexible enough, nor diverse enough, in producing high quality outcomes across many disciplines and careers. Everyone comes out mostly as porridge. Those who come out differently do so largely because of their extracurricular endeavors.

    The single biggest obstacle to producing excellence–and there are many–is that there is no way to maintain momentum in a direction of learning. There’s no way to start with a topic, concept, book, interest, or project and expand it into all other knowledge and skills. Educators hop and skip around, using this technique and that resource. The SYSTEM is fatally FLAWED. If you want to turn around poor-performing schools–which is ALL schools–you MUST redesign the SYSTEM.

  24. I completely agree with Cynthia, Maria, and Brenda in their posts over the last couple of days. I work at a low performing school in an urban neighborhood. Our principal is retiring and will be replaced with a principal that has been ousted from two other schools by parents and teachers for verifiable egregious behavior. How can we talk about improving the performance of a school when an administrator who has already proven ineptitude in his previous performance is being granted a leadership position at ours?

  25. School Choice Now.

    Just cut the discussion and take an honest look at the Milwaukee School Choice Program and at the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. These programs have been proven by research and by participant testimonials to improve student achievement.

    As far as I am concerned, that is the onyl criteria- student achievement has improved. Everything else comes in a distant second to that.

  26. Although these strategies cannot be denied as effective for most of our lowest performing schools, the Community School model should be developed in tandem with a whole school turn around strategy. In Chicago, successful school turnaround has often included community resources that have been engaged as partners. Community resources can bring services into the school to work in compliment to a strong curriculum and effective teachers. Teachers, parents, and students have support to work together and create a more effective learning environment. Community Schools support students’ developmental needs that often interrupt students’ ability to take advantage of quality learning that is available at the school. The school cannot do it alone… other community resources should be engaged to build a more effective comprehensive approach to student success. In Illinois we have many examples of communities that have organized their resources collaboratively, with the school, to focus on student development.

  27. The Community Schools concept dramatically transformed our Elementary school into a thriving learning community. We offer programs that allow a large portion of our students to learn and play in a safe environment during extended hours; keeping them out of the violent street culture that surrounds their school. Through our academic enrichment and drama arts program we have invested in creating an inquisitive environment that promotes higher order thinking skill and puts the arts back into our schools! The arts programs is supported with qualified, inspiring adult mentors and teachers; affording kids diverse adult role models to engage them in goal setting and personal achievement

    The programs offered have helped develop the students into well rounded individuals, socially, academically, emotionally and physically. We have seen an increase in test scores and attendance in the course of our work, and although we still could improve we know we have found a successful strategy.

  28. Community Schools and programs have dramatically transformed my school into the hub of the community. We offer programs that allow the majority of my students to learn and play in a safe environment during extended hours.

    The programs offered has helped develop the students into well rounded individuals, socially, academically, emotionally and physically.

  29. It is amazing to me how many in a given community want to help but are not able to connect in a productive manner. My hunch is that in many communities there are armies of volunteers that could be called in to do work that would encourage the teaching and administrative staff of a school district. I am particularly impressed with the St. Vrain Valley School District and the involvement of a local church called Lifebridge in Longmont, Colorado. This relationship through its many acts of service, sans the faith aspect of the church, has aided in the overall morale of the district in my opinion. I would encourage all the non-profits in a given community to see how they could better serve the district. I would also like to see businesses get invovlved. The supplemental education businesses like Sylvan Learning Center are begging for ways to act as a support system for schools. The opportunities are there, but the partnerships have yet to be encouraged. All of this goes a long way in helping low performing schools become winning schools.

  30. As an Advocate for Urban Education Reform, it is often troubling for me to continue to hear and read about improvements without factoring in the social and environmental factors which send children to school unprepared. For many who do not believe it, there is a culture in communities where crime, drugs, and violence is the dominant culture. In this culture, education is perhaps the tenth most important principle of life. We must, as stakeholders, pool our resources and become the surrogate parents and provide the love, communication, teach the social skills each child needs.

    It is my humble opinion that unless and until we ‘realistically’ address the barriers, obstacles, hurdeles, and issues that go far beyond the simplistic approaches that too used in the argument of urban education reform. If we continue to blame each other and not recognize the devastating impact of crime, drugs, and violence and the ‘gateway’ strategies for the prison industry, we are only kidding ourselves.

  31. I believe the best way to help improve under achieving schools is through networked, strategic principal leadership. You must get inspiring individuals who are relentless for children and yet also inspire adults. They must be learners themselves and have small egos- they know deeply good instruction and their coaching/interpersonal skills are beyond excellent. These teachers and principals always give 100%. They find personal responsibility in all they do- they also find great joy.

    But these individuals need time to read, stay up on trends, collaborate, review data, and creatively problem solve together. This take more time for teacher teams and principal teams and more time for kids too! If we want to ramp up readiness for college we have to ramp up more time and support for added rigor.

    That’s it. Simple- great principals who inspire teachers who take personal respponsibility for every one of their kids, monitored closely for accountability through the data and able to continuously improve and adapt. And don’t forget to have fun while doing it-

  32. 1. Fix and clean it: make the physical building and grounds of the school somewhere hospitable and even inspiring; a place that shows we respect the students and think they deserve clean, beautiful surroundings, and deserve as much in the way of education and a future as anyone with money.

    2. Pay teacher salaries that are competitive enough to make the best teachers want to go there, and the brightest minds want to become educators.

    3. Change the culture of the school: invest in arts programs; provide extensive afterschool/extra hours tutoring with qualified, inspiring tutors (perhaps involving community leaders); cultivate intellectual curiosity for its own sake, and tie it back to exam work, not the other way around.

  33. give money rather thatn take money from the educational system. If we cut the cost of building 10 machines of ditruction for five years and give this money to the educational system in that five years we could double the amount we spend on our children concerning their education. I am sure that the lowest scoring schools are probally ovr crowded, the instructors underpaid and over worked, poverty stricken, poor health and health care, i would be amazed to find out if one of these schools actually was in an upper class neighborhood.

  34. Failing schools cannot improve without all the stakeholders taking an effective role in the process of improvement and accountability in the outcome(s). Success breeds success and the pathways to excellence are well documented in the school improvement literature and research.

    The “habits of success” are found within the “culture of success”. Every school has the ability to identify their strengths. Build on this. Problems we have, solutions we need. Within a framework of authentic assessment, all those involved in the improvement process (and it should be everyone) needs to have a “laser like focus” on specific components that once implemented will help bring the entire institution in line with the “pathways of excellence”.

    There is an old principal saying: “If you expect it, inspect it.” School improvement is not a “happenstance” and needs to be intentional, daily. A sense of urgency needs to permeate every planning session with processes designed to reflect growth through formative analysis (for celebrations and course corrections) as well as summative analysis.

    Schools have always had the means to improve but an improvement system that lacks support (in all its forms) is being set up to fail. Nobody enters the field of education to be a failure…school failure is a compound process of terminal apathy by all. Give schools the tools and personnel necessary to embrace key practices and researched-based school improvement strategies. Those who will not comply (give them several coached opportunities to join in) will leave…the road to excellence in learning is not for the timid.

  35. How about instead of just getting rid of teachers, we provide them with the necessary tools to become better educators. More professional development is needed to keep our good teachers in schools. It’s so easy to blame the teachers, to cut them for a “quick fix”, and to adopt trends without fixing the true problems with the educational system.

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