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Creating Conditions for Effective State Support for School Turnaround

TERA recently brought together researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to discuss how states and districts can better support successful school turnaround. The bulk of the two-day meeting was comprised of presentations and discussions about three research topics: governance structures and supports, student academic and non-academic needs, and educator pipelines. After each presentation, state teams participated in both whole group and within-state discussions and with their research partners, considered how each research strand shaped current and upcoming turnaround work. 

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What We Learned

  1. Successful turnaround schools and systems for turnaround at the state and district levels begins with a clear theory of action followed by fidelity of implementation. 

  2. Research shows that schools must address both academic and non-academic student needs, and states can help by supporting school districts to develop data systems that provide comprehensive data on academic and non-academic needs.

  3. States and districts must support teachers and leaders to create structures and carve out the time needed to address the unique needs of students in poverty. 

  4. Leaders of turnaround schools should conduct an inclusive and detailed hiring process that begins early, practices selective retention, promotes the development of strong professional environments, and invests in teacher development.

  5. States are grappling with many of the same implementation issues related to supporting and improving high-needs schools. Research studies within and across states should build on each other in order to grow the knowledge base.