By Tina Trujillo, Michelle Renee, and Tara Kini
Summary by PEN Weekly Newsblast
"A new report from the National Education Policy Center suggests that government agencies and policymakers, including the U.S. Department of Education, would be wise to look at existing research regarding school turnarounds. Evidence shows that top-down, punitive efforts are ineffective and counterproductive. A collaborative, community-driven approach combined with significant, sustained financial investment and a focus on teaching and learning has proven the better path to school improvement. The report explains that the four School Improvement Grant (SIG) approaches are largely grounded in firing and replacing school staff. Because the nation's lowest-performing schools are also hardest to staff, these approaches have an inherent logistical problem: finding better-qualified personnel to refill vacant slots. The report also points out that while many experts consider community engagement critical for successful turnarounds, federal and state policymakers have rarely involved the public in the turnaround decision-making process. Research links community organizing with more effective teacher recruitment and retention, improved curricula, increased equity in school funding systems, and higher student performance. The report also advocates increasing federal and state spending for public education, particularly as it is allocated for turnaround-style reforms."