Incentivizing School Turnaround: A Proposal for Reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
In recent months, education reformers have started buzzing about the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and several, including Fordham’s own Checker Finn and Mike Petrilli, have proposed substantial revisions. In its latest report, Incentivizing School Turnaround: A Proposal for Reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Center for American Progress (CAP) lays out its own set of proposals regarding the act’s school turnaround provisions. The report names four key recommendations:
- Dispense School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds only to consistently under-performing schools in districts with strong pools of teachers, the ability to use student data effectively, widespread support of large-scale reforms, and the flexibility required to implement such reforms.
- Allow schools flexibility in selecting a suitable turnaround strategy, but encourage schools to adopt sweeping reforms (e.g., extensive staff replacement) based on “data-driven needs assessment.”
- Evaluate state applications for turnaround grants based on demonstrated commitments to empowering State Education Agencies (SEAs) to intervene substantially in turnaround schools by clustering them into separate districts, expanding school data collection and analysis, and training teachers and administrators specifically to work in turnaround schools.
- Use the provision and withholding of federal funds to hold states, districts, and individual schools accountable for their success or failure in transforming under-performing schools.
Changes to ESEA, particularly the SIG provisions, will certainly affect Ohio, which received $19.5 million in SIG funds earlier this year. Even with the law in its current form, some Ohio schools have already implemented large-scale staff replacements, and one school will likely be run by an education management organization starting this fall. However, some schools receiving SIG funds have not made progress in implementing substantial reforms, as we’ve pointed out in the past, one of many reasons an ESEA overhaul is long-overdue.
School Turnaround: A
Proposal for Reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary
Jeremy Ayers and Melissa Lazarín
Center for American Progress
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