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NCLB’s Ultimate Restructuring Alternatives: Do they Improve the Quality of Education?

Across the nation, the final stage of school restructuring is being reached by an inexorably increasing number of schools. Under the No Child Left Behind law, if a school does not make its adequate yearly progress targets after four previous years of being “in need of improvement,” it must implement a fundamental restructuring plan. The restructuring options are as follows: (1) turn the school operations over to the state, (2) turn the operations over to a private company, (3) reopen as a charter school, or (4) reconstitute the school by replacing some or all of the teachers, staff and administrators. There is a fifth alternative of applying “any other” fundamental school restructuring, an option now receiving new attention. It is essential that we know how these restructuring options work in practice -- particularly as the law is now due for reauthorization. This brief reviews the independent research on the ultimate sanctions and provides recommendations designed to enhance school improvement.