Policy Studies Associates

School Reform/Turnaround Strategies



U.S. Department of Education

Turnaround School LeaderS Program

The U.S. Department of Education has released Leading Low-Performing Schools. This study—conducted by PSA and Westat—describes the implementation of the federal Turnaround School Leaders Program. The study examined partnerships among school districts, states, higher education, and nonprofits to develop leaders for low-performing schools. Read the report here and the summary here.

Teacher Evaluation Systems

PSA conducted case studies of eight districts' teacher evaluation systems. The case studies, intended to inform teacher evaluation policies and practices, examined the planning, design, and early implementation of eight local teacher evaluation systems that relied on multiple measures of teacher performance, including gains in student achievement and observation of classroom practice. The study describes teacher evaluation systems in eight school districts, including Austin Independent School District (Austin, TX), District of Columbia Public Schools (Washington, DC.), Hamilton County Department of Education (Chattanooga, TN); Harrison School District 2 (Colorado Springs, CO); Hillsborough County Public Schools (Tampa, FL); Pittsburgh Public Schools (Pittsburgh, PA); Plattsburgh Public Schools, (Plattsburgh, NY); and St. Mary’s County Public Schools (Leonardtown, MD).

Study of Emerging Teacher Evaluation Systems (Full report)
Results in Brief: Study of Emerging Teacher Evaluation Systems

Identifying Potentially Successful Approaches to Turning Around Chronically Low-Performing Schools

Under a grant from the National Center for Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences, PSA took a major role in a three-year study that examined policies, programs, practices, and implementation factors that appeared to be related to school turnaround. Partners in the work were the American Institutes for Research, Decision Information Resources, and the Urban Institute. PSA participated in overall study conceptualization and design and in developing a survey of 750 principals to gather basic information on reform efforts. PSA designed and led and in-depth case studies of 36 schools in which student performance either did or did not improve from a persistently low level. Factors analyzed in these case studies included the overall coherence of reform efforts as well as changes in leadership, curriculum, use of data, and instructional practices. As co-authors of the final study report, the PSA team led the analysis and reporting on the contrasts across schools that did and did not experience improvement in student performance.