Volume 26, Number 5
Scenes from the School Turnaround Movement
Passion, frustration, mid-course corrections mark rapid reforms
A student hard at work at the Law and Government Academy, a turnaround in the Hartford public schools
Last fall, when I set out to write a journalistic book about schools going from bad to great (and fast), the plan was to report on what was working in school turnaround. But it quickly became obvious that such information did not exist in definitive form. Instead, I stepped into a process that—while energetic and intense—is still being figured out.This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.
School turnaround is about rapid and dramatic improvement, not just in test scores but also in culture, attitude, and student aspirations. It is marked not by orderly implementations but by altering a lot at once and being willing, if something doesn’t work, to step in midstream and change it, and change it again. For those in the midst of school turnaround, much of the decision making happens in the moment—and carries tremendous personal risks as well as rewards.