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									Improving Low-Performing Schools:
Lessons from Five Years of Studying
  School Restructuring under NCLB

         Caitlin Scott, Ph.D.
      Center on Education Policy
                          Background: NCLB
• Year 4, restructuring planning
  Not making AYP for 5 or more years
• Year 5, restructuring implementation
  Not making AYP for 6 or more years

• FEDERAL OPTIONS (NCLB, 2002)
  –   Enter into contract with outside organization
  –   Reopen as charter
  –   Replace staff
  –   Any other
  –   Turn school over to state
                                               Background: NCLB
                                          # of Title I                     % of Title I
                                          Schools in                       Schools in
                                         Restructuring                    Restructuring


 2006-07                                            2,302                      4%


 2007-08                                            3,923                      7%

 2008-09                                            5,017                      9%
Source: U.S. Department of Education and the Center on Education Policy
                   Background: Previous CEP
                        Restructuring Studies
                Issued Annually
• Michigan, 2004-05 through 2008-09
• California, 2005-06 through 2008-09
• Maryland, 2005-06 through 2008-09
• Georgia, 2007-08 through 2008-09
• Ohio, 2007-08 through 2008-09
• New York, 2008-09
Available at www.cep-dc.org
                      Research Synthesis
                              Questions
•   What have we learned from our local case
    studies about how to improve struggling
    schools?
•   What have we learned from our state-level
    research about the impact of NCLB and
    related state policies on state efforts to
    improve schools?
•   From this knowledge, what advice can we offer
    for using the $3.5 billion appropriated in 2009
    for federal school improvement grants?
                               Methodology
Data Sources
• Interviews, document reviews, and state test
  data in
  – State Departments of Education in 6 states
  – 23 case study districts, and 48 schools in
    restructuring or exiting restructuring

Analyses
• Content analysis and descriptive statistics
                           What have we learned
                        about improving schools?
Exited Restructuring             Type       District and State
Annapolis High School            Suburban   Anne Arundel County, MD
Guilford Elementary/Middle       Urban      Baltimore City Public Schools, MD
Hillside Elementary              Rural      Harrison Community Schools, MI
Kennedy Middle                   Urban      Atlanta Public Schools, GA
Long Middle                      Urban      Atlanta Public Schools, GA
Morrell Park Elementary/Middle   Urban      Baltimore City Public Schools, MD
Newman Elementary                Urban      Mansfield City Schools, OH
Reed Middle                      Suburban   Central Islip Union Free Schools, NY
Sobrante Park Elementary         Urban      Oakland Unified, CA
Willow Run Middle                Suburban   Willow Run Community Schools, MI
Woodlawn Middle                  Suburban   Baltimore County Public Schools, MD
                What have we learned
             about improving schools?
Finding: All case study schools that
  successfully exited restructuring
  reported using multiple, coordinated
  improvement activities.
 As California State Superintendent Jack
 O’Connell said in a speech at a state symposium
 in 2007-08, “I wish there was a one size fits all
 solution, but there isn’t.”
                 What have we learned
              about improving schools?
Finding: All case study schools that successfully
  exited restructuring reported that their reform
  efforts had evolved over time.

   For example, at Hillside Elementary in Michigan,
  the governing board, a group of appointed
  district and state officials, was quickly
  disbanded. The staff said this structure was too
  removed from the day-to-day activities of the
  school. Response to Interventions (a new
  technique to identify and assist struggling
  students) is currently being added.
                 What have we learned
              about improving schools?
Finding: All case study schools that
  successfully exited restructuring reported
  frequent use of data to guide decisions.

• All reported that teachers looked at student
  assessment data at least once a month.

• All but one school reported that teachers used
  data at least once a month to regroup students
  by skill level.
                      What have we learned
                   about improving schools?
Finding: Replacing staff helped improve many
  schools, but sometimes had unintended
  negative consequences.
Successful schools
• had stable or declining enrollment and no teacher or principal
  shortages
• had a widely publicized vision that allowed the school to
  overcome its past “bad” reputation and attract highly qualified
  applicants
• were in districts that negotiated with the union to resolve
  stumbling blocks in the contract
• were in districts that had an effective hiring system and did
  not rely on principals alone to recruit and interview applicants.
                    What have we learned
                 about improving schools?
Finding: Replacing staff helped improve
  many schools, but sometimes had
  unintended negative consequences.
Some less successful schools
• had difficulty finding enough qualified teachers
• started the year with substitutes or teachers with
  emergency certification
• spent so much time over the summer hiring staff that
  they had little or no time to plan for the new school year
• had union contracts that made it difficult to choose staff
  or caused restructuring schools to lose new teachers in
  restructuring schools due to layoffs.
                   What have we learned
                about improving schools?
Finding: Most case study schools that did not exit
  restructuring said they experienced setbacks or
  needed more time or information.
Set backs
• Many schools lost key staff members who were
  supposed to implement the strategies.
• Some had changes in student populations due to new
  configurations of school boundaries or grade levels,
  which made the strategies more difficult to implement.
                   What have we learned
                about improving schools?
Finding: Most case study schools that did not exit
  restructuring said they experienced setbacks or
  needed more time or information.
More time needed
• New Highland Elementary and North Tahoe Middle
  School expressed a need for more time in fall 2008 and
  then made AYP based on 2008-09 testing.
• Others may also need more time, especially in districts
  where schools with similar strategies have been
  successful
                   What have we learned
                about improving schools?
Finding: Most case study schools that did not exit
  restructuring said they experienced setbacks or
  needed more time or information.
More information needed
• A few officials could not say why improvement efforts
  failed: “We sought quality instruction and had an
  excellent system of professional development and
  coaching support. To be quite honest with you, I don’t
  know why we didn’t do better.”
• Deeper analysis of achievement data and school needs
  assessments might help schools understand and
  address barriers to improving student achievement.
                                     Summary:
                             Improving Schools
All case study schools that successfully exited restructuring
   reported
• multiple, coordinated improvement activities
• reform efforts that had evolved over time
• frequent use of data to guide decisions.
Replacing staff helped improve many schools, but
  sometimes had unintended negative consequences.
Most case study schools that did not exit restructuring
• experienced setbacks
• needed more time
• needed more information.
                                          What have we learned about the impact
                                             of NCLB and related state policies?

Finding: States use different policies to identify
  schools for restructuring, resulting in uneven
  numbers of identified schools across states.
• The six states in our restructuring studies had different targets for
  percentages of proficient students, e.g. in elementary reading, 2007-
  2008 targets ranged from 35.2% proficient in CA to 77.0% proficient
  in OH
• Studies by NCES in 2007 and 2009 mapped states’ cut scores for
  proficient performance on their state tests onto the scoring scales of
  NAEP and found great variation among states (U.S. Department of Education, 2008a;
   Bandeira de Mello, Blankenship, & McLaughlin, 2009).

• Finally, the number of schools in improvement, particularly in the
  restructuring stage, depends partly on the status of a state’s
  accountability system in 2002, when NCLB became law.
                     What have we learned about the impact
                        of NCLB and related state policies?

Finding: Some states have identified an unmanageable number
   of schools for restructuring, and many schools remain stuck in
   restructuring for many years. (Data in table is for 2008-2009)
     Year     Year    Year    Year    Year    Year      Total
      4        5       6       7       8       9
CA    265     369     246      117    173      10       1,180
GA     19      11       8      10      10       3          61
MD     3        7       0       0       4      31          45
MI     19      35       7       6       3       1         71
NY     50      50      33      50      53      15        251
OH     67      51       8      16       3       3        148
                 What have we learned about the impact
                    of NCLB and related state policies?

Finding: Federal options for restructuring do not
  appear promising, and all the states we studied
  have moved away from these options.
• CEP studies in the past two years found none of
  the federal restructuring options associated with
  schools making AYP (CEP, 2008g)
• GA, MD, NY, and OH are piloting differentiated
  accountability
• MI and CA have also changed their approach to
  supporting school improvement
                   What have we learned about the impact
                      of NCLB and related state policies?

Finding: All six states have begun targeting
  supports to the most academically needy
  schools or districts.
• GA, MD, OH, and NY use differentiated accountability
  pilots to offer more support to schools that missed AYP
  targets for students as a whole as opposed to schools
  that missed AYP targets for fewer subgroups
• CA focuses on districts with the most severe and
  pervasive problems
• MI differentiates supports by conducting audits and then
  using Process Mentor Teams to help schools implement
  the findings of the audits
                     What have we learned about the impact
                        of NCLB and related state policies?

Finding: All six states leveraged additional support for
  schools in improvement by relying on partnerships with
  other agencies and organizations.
• CA: The state approved providers to assess district needs,
  and providers can be governmental, non profits, or for profits
• GA & OH: Most assistance was by state employees, but the
  states worked with others on their differentiated accountability
  systems and trainings
• MD: The state developed a Breakthrough Center, with funding
  and assistance from Mass Insight
• MI: Most support was through regional technical assistance
  providers
• NY: The state contracted with regional organizations to
  provide most assistance
                 What have we learned about the impact
                    of NCLB and related state policies?

Finding: All six states have increased their
  use of needs assessments to diagnose
  challenges in restructuring schools
• All have created or identified needs
  assessments that help schools and districts plan
  restructuring
• All have also created or identified assessment
  tools to be used by outside evaluators in at least
  some schools in restructuring
               What have we learned about the impact
                  of NCLB and related state policies?


Finding: All six states have expanded on-
 site monitoring or visits to restructuring
 schools
• GA, MI, NY: Require monitoring visits to
  all restructuring schools
• CA, MD, OH: Require visits to some, but
  not, all restructuring schools
                     What have we learned about the impact
                        of NCLB and related state policies?

Finding: Title I School Improvement Grants may
  help restructuring schools improve
• All six states showed an increase in combined Title I
  1003(a) and 1003(g) from 2007-08 to 2008-09
• For fiscal year 2009, School Improvement Grants under
  1003(g) total $3.5 billion nationally
• This funding increase is welcomed by state and local
  educators, who called for more funding throughout our
  studies. One principal said in the fall of 2008, “I just hope
  the new President’s going to give us more money to
  invest in education.”
                                              Summary:
                        Impact of NCLB and State Policies
States use different policies to identify restructuring schools, resulting in
• uneven numbers of identified schools across states
• an unmanageable number of restructuring schools in some states
• many schools that remain stuck in restructuring.
All six states in our study
• moved away from federal restructuring options
• began targeting supports to the most needy schools or districts
• leveraged additional support for schools in improvement through
    partnerships with other agencies and organizations.
• increased their use of needs assessments to diagnose challenges in
    restructuring schools
• expanded on-site monitoring or visits to restructuring schools.
New funding for Title I school improvement grants may help states.
            What advice do we have about using
            $3.5 billion for school improvement?


Recommendation: Federal policymakers
 should consider raising or waiving the 5%
 cap on the amount of Title I funds states
 can reserve for state support to schools in
 improvement but should allow flexibility in
 the types of specific actions states take to
 assist schools.
                What advice do we have about using
                $3.5 billion for school improvement?
Recommendation: States should consider using their
  portion of federal school improvement funds to
  experiment with promising practices identified in CEP
  studies:
• Targeting supports to the most academically needy
  schools
• Building partnerships with regional government agencies
  and other organizations to support direct technical
  assistance to restructuring schools
• Increasing the use of needs assessment to help
  diagnose schools’ challenges and plan improvement
• Increasing on-site visits to low-performing schools.
                  What advice do we have about using
                  $3.5 billion for school improvement?
Recommendation: Schools and districts should tailor their
  improvement efforts to individual school needs.
These efforts might include:
• Using multiple, coordinated strategies that are well matched
  to the needs of the school and students
• Evaluating and revising reform efforts over time in response to
  school and student needs
• Analyzing data frequently and regrouping students for
  instruction
• Replacing staff, but only if there is an adequate pool of
  applicants, a plan or vision that allows the school to overcome
  its past reputation, help from the union to resolve stumbling
  blocks in the contract, and effective hiring systems.
           What advice do we have about using
           $3.5 billion for school improvement?


Recommendation: Local, state, and federal
 support of schools that exit restructuring
 should continue for several years
 afterward.
           What advice do we have about using
           $3.5 billion for school improvement?


Recommendation: Local, state, and federal
 officials should join forces to evaluate
 improvement strategies.
Report by Caitlin Scott, CEP
  consultant

Research assistance by CEP         Center on Education Policy
  consultants Elizabeth Duffrin,   1001 Connecticut Ave., NW,
  Maureen Kelleher, and Brenda
  Neuman-Sheldon.                             Suite 522
                                     Washington, D.C. 20036
Editing by Nancy Kober, CEP              tel: 202.822.8065
   consultant                           fax: 202.822.6008
                                      e: cep-dc@cep-dc.org
Jack Jennings, CEP’s president         w: www.cep-dc.org
   and CEO, and Diane Stark
   Rentner, CEP’s director of
   national programs, provided
   advice and assistance.

								
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