NEPC Review: Measuring School Turnaround Success
Measuring School Turnaround Success contends that the lack of a shared definition for turnaround success makes it hard for reformers to learn from each other and determine true success. The report claims to develop a model for defining turnaround success with measures, metrics, and cut scores that reach beyond student achievement tests, to include indicators of engagement by students, parents and teachers, teacher and leader effectiveness, and short-term learning outcomes. Unfortunately, given the dearth of research evidence and sound methodological techniques incorporated into its analysis, as well as the omission of several rigorous, peer-reviewed studies that contradict the majority of its proposals, the report does not meet a minimal standard of evidence to support its claims. Ironically, the report focuses largely on standardized test scores, despite its stated intentions. The result is a report that distracts attention and potential resources from schools’ other goals, including civic, social, emotional, and broader academic ones. In the end, the report puts forth yet another proposal, funded by public dollars, that encourages state leaders to continue over-relying on flawed, test-centered strategies. Policymakers and practitioners looking for guidance on measuring turnaround success will not find worthwhile recommendations. Instead, they will encounter several unsubstantiated ones and others that are contradicted by solid peer-reviewed research.