Katharine Strunk and Julie A. Marsh of Rossier School of Education at USC wrote an interesting piece on their studies of school turnarounds over the past three years. Unfortunately, they haven't found any surefire ways for rapidly improving persistently low-performing schools, but they have learned a few lessons along the way.
These mixed results are not a particularly gratifying picture. However, one of the benefits of collaborating with scholars like Julie, who dig deep into the hows and the whys of policy implementation, is that we can do more than ask, "Did it work?" and begin to ask, "Why?" or "Why not?" The short answer is that implementing turnaround reforms is just plain hard, for lots of reasons. Today we highlight three areas that we think are particularly pertinent to school turnaround: writing a high-quality school plan, building sufficient school (and district) capacity to implement the reform, and meaningfully engaging parents.