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Motherload for Turnaround Schools Information!

posted Apr 13, 2012, 6:39 AM by Rick Colo   [ updated Apr 13, 2012, 6:40 AM ]
I think I found the motherload for turnaround schools! I just joined the http://www.schoolturnaroundsupport.org learning community and there seems to be a great deal of information that I can really use to help turnaround schools. For example, I was reading their Humberman et. al. document, "Turnaround Schools in California: Who Are They and What Strategies Do They Use?" and there is a wealth of information from interviews of 9 successful California turnaround schools.  The key strategies that the principals felt were contributing factors in turning around the school were:
  1. Instructional strategies focused on student subgroups.
  2. An emphasis on teacher collaboration.
  3. Strong instructional leadership.
  4. Regular use of assessments and analysis of data.
  5. Increased parent involvement.
  6. Guidance and support provided by the district.
  7. Use of student engagement strategies.
  8. Use of extended learning time.
Not only does the report mention the 7 strategies, but goes into detail on each one. Some of my aha's were:
  • Students perception is that when you raise your hand and are wrong this is worse than being called on and being wrong.
  • District support (training, coaching, mentoring, focus on district-wide data) can be very helpful.
  • PLC's helped - focused on instructional strategies, data analysis.
  • Data analysis - benchmarks every 6-7 weeks; weekly student data meetings, data reports from teachers - expectations on week's material, students that did not meet this level, reflection on why students not successful, and plan what teacher will do different next week.
  • A school wide period where the entire school was focused on the same vocabulary words in all subjects helped teachers communicate and collaborate.
  • Training parents how to read with children (Everyone's A Reader suggested).
  • RtI and EDI - Explicit Direct Instruction strategies - flexible grouping, increased student engagement time, continuous assessment.
  • GRR - Gradual Release of Responsibility - I do, you watch; I do, you help; You do, I help; You do, I watch.
  • Extended time/year either school wide or if not progressing - highest gain came to school with 7:45-2:45(K), 4:00(1-5); 5:00(6-8). This seems to confirm the data I've heard with other schools, including our own about the need to extend the school day.
One of the key things that the paper mentioned is that there are many definitions of turnaround schools and by their definition only 1-2% of the schools hit this mark.