School Turnaround Resources

school turnaround logoA redesigned School Turnaround Learning Community (STLC) site provides access to a range of free resources and opportunities for engagement focused on school turnaround in action.

A project of the Center on School Turnaround at WestEd, the STLC supports state, district, and school leaders working to improve the nation’s lowest-achieving schools.

STLC makes it easier for busy education leaders to engage with specialists and other educators on just-in-time school turnaround research and practices. The site offers interactive webinars, curated resource collections, a Turnaround in Action blog, and a vetted resource library to help you address the complexities of school improvement work.

Especially for education leaders wanting to make changes with limited budgets, be they in rural or urban settings, this site is a goldmine.

For more information, please visit:


Schools Can’t Innovate Until Districts Do

crpeCRPE, based out of the University of Washington, is focused on the complex systemic challenges affecting public education. The organization develops, tests, and supports evidence-based solutions to create new possibilities for the parents, educators, and public officials who strive to improve America’s schools.

One of their regular publications, The Lens, addresses tough issues in American education today. Recently, one of their contributors, Robin Lake, wrote a piece about the crucial role of school districts in setting up individual schools for success. Following is an excerpt from the article:

Personalized learning and Common Core Standards are the focus of most major school districts and charter school networks. Educators and parents know students must be better prepared to think deeply about complex problems and to have skills that are relevant for jobs that haven’t yet been created.

While promising new school models are showing what’s possible, innovation in the classroom or even the school building only takes you so far. Without parallel changes in district-wide systems, efforts to support an academic sea change, like Common Core, are doomed to fail. Twenty-first century learning practices demand twenty-first century systems…

For more information and to read the full report, please visit:


Interest in Teaching Careers Declining

img-future-educatorThe percentage-and overall number-of high school students reporting an interest in teaching has steadily declined since 2010, according to The Condition of Future Educators 2014.

This ACT report compares data on the self-reported career interests of nearly 1.85 million 2014 US high school graduates who took the ACT® test, compared to those who took the ACT in the previous four years.

Key findings include:

  • Only 5% (89,192 students) of students tested in 2014 said they intended to pursue a career as an educator-either as a teacher, counselor, or administrator-compared to 7% of graduates (106,478 students) in 2010 who planned to pursue an education major.
  • The percentages of future teachers who met the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in math, science, and reading remained lower than those of the population of national test takers, as was the case in 2010.
  • Diversity continues to be lacking among future educators. Among ACT-tested graduates who planned to pursue an education major, 72% were white, compared to 56% of all tested graduates.

Of course, these data are self-reported in surveys and may not end up coming to fruition, but certainly they represent a cause for concern.

To read the report, visit


Defining College and Career Readiness

logo-act-printAs a result of changes in the global economy, educators, education researchers, and national and state policymakers have emphasized that students must graduate from high school “ready for college and career.” But opinions differ about what college and (especially) career readiness actually means and how best to assess it. ACT has been refining and deepening its groundbreaking research into these questions. Unpacking ‘Career Readiness‘” outlines a model of academic readiness for the workplace that includes work, career, and job readiness. Prior ACT research has often been cited—incorrectly—as proving that readiness for college and readiness for work are identical.

ACT has refined its research into the requirements for success in postsecondary education and the workplace, and this brief summarizes some of the main conclusions arising from this research. The report calls for a broad model of college and career readiness–a “life skills” framework–that supports a truly holistic picture of college and career readiness. It also focuses attention toward a future direction for assessment that takes these new conclusions into account.

Read the report and learn more about the exciting research ACT is doing to understand more about college and career readiness:


Effective Principal Practices in Action


In 2013, The Wallace Foundation identified, based on a decade of research, five practices principals can use to guide their schools to better teaching and learning. WNET, New York City’s PBS affiliate, has just released a series of five videos that bring these practices to life by showing how successful principals put them to work day to day.

The videos include interviews with principals and their staff members from schools in Florida, Georgia, Maryland and New York. They show, among other things, how these principals work to engage students and their parents, nurture teacher leaders, instill a culture of learning and delegate authority to make time for instruction. Accompanying the videos are discussion questions to help principals interested in replicating such efforts in their own schools.

Click here to see the videos:

Click to find The School Principal as Leader, a report that describes the five practices featured in the videos:



Resource From P21 Empowers Parents to Help Kids Thrive in the 21st Century

P21LogoHorizontalRGBP21, the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, released an online free resource for parents to help prepare kids for the future of citizenship, learning and the workforce. The National PTA served as a family engagement advisor for the project.

To be successful today, students must be civically and digitally literate, globally competent and proficient in the 4Cs-critical thinking and problem solving; communication; collaboration; and creativity and innovation. Yet, according to recent data on civics education and global citizenship, more than one-third of 12th grade students scored below basic in civics and fewer than one-third reported they use their learning for real-world problem solving.

Education today takes place both inside and outside the classroom. The Parents’ Guide to 21st Century Learning and Citizenship reinforces the idea that preparing children for 21st century learning and citizenship is a team effort-at home, at school, within the community and throughout the day.

“National PTA is pleased to collaborate with P21 and bring the Parents’ Guide to 21st Century Learning and Citizenship to families nationwide to empower them with tools to support the development of 21st century skills and 21st century citizenship among youth,” said Otha Thornton, president of National PTA. “Today’s workplace requires employees to think on their feet, make decisions and solve problems. It is essential that our nation’s youth are prepared with the critical thinking and reasoning skills necessary to excel in their studies and the workforce in order to thrive in a global economy.”

The Parents’ Guide–which includes an overview document, tip sheet and real-world examples–will support parents and communities as they prepare young people to be productive citizens, and ensure they have the skills, knowledge and mindsets they need to be successful in college, career and life.

Free download available at


Monitoring the Implementation of Educator Evaluation Systems

rel-central-logo1The implementation of new educator evaluation systems has become an important issue for states and districts. A new guide developed by Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Central provides a three-step process for state departments of education to monitor district implementation of state- or district-developed educator evaluation systems. This process includes the following steps:

  1. Develop state guidelines for educator evaluation systems.
  2. Develop data-collection methods for both policy and practice data.
  3. Determine adherence criteria and review data against the criteria.

For each step of the process, the guide provides sample tools developed by REL Central and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Districts can use the process and tools to self-monitor implementation and guide further development of their educator evaluation systems.

Read the guide at:


Are Higher Ed Students getting “The Big 6”?

gallupJust 3% of all college graduates in a recent Gallup-Purdue University study say they had all six of the experiences — “The Big 6″ — that have been shown to prepare students well for life and increase chances of on-time graduation. Together, and individually, the Gallup-Purdue Index finds these six experiences have a stronger relationship to long-term life outcomes such as employee engagement and well-being than the type of school these graduates attended (for example, public or private).

Following are “The Big 6” and the percentage of students in the poll who said they had those experiences in college:

63%  I had at least one professor at [College] who made me excited about learning.

27%  My professors at [College] cared about me as a person.

22%  I had a mentor who encouraged me to pursue my goals and dreams.

32%  I worked on a project that took a semester or more to complete.

29%  I had an internship or job that allowed me to apply what I was learning in the classroom.

20%  I was extremely active in extracurricular activities and organizations while I attended [College].

For more information, please visit:


American Opinion on Educational Standards

leadership-logoThe Leadership Conference Education Fund, Hager Sharp Inc., and ORC International have collaborated to conduct a national survey among U.S. adults about their awareness, knowledge and attitudes regarding standards in public K-12 education. The survey broadly explores their expectations of public education and also includes questions pertaining specifically to the Common Core State Standards. The research team oversampled among African Americans and Hispanic Americans to ensure representation and adequate statistical power for the analysis. They also conducted the survey in three states—Georgia, Colorado and Tennessee —to guide state-specific messaging and communication efforts pertaining to the Common Core.

Following is a short summary of the results:

-Nearly all American adults (97 percent) believe students need to be able to think critically and apply skills to the “real world” to be successful after high school.

-Nearly all (92 percent) believe schools must rise to meet the expectations of colleges and employers.

-Most (85 percent) also believe the U.S. needs consistent standards to help ensure higher expectations for students.

-Nearly three-quarters of American adults (71 percent) believe expectations in U.S. schools are too low, and half believe U.S. schools are not being held accountable specifically for the performance of students of color.

-Moreover, only 47 percent of American adults believe U.S. schools do a good job of providing a well-rounded education to every student.

-There is strong support (82 percent) for “a wholesale transformation of our education system” to ensure “long-term economic security.”

Americans are divided on two issues in education:

-Half believe there is too much testing in schools.

-Nearly half (46 percent) believe the federal government should not have a role in education.

Despite the anti-federal sentiment among 46 percent of American adults, nearly three-quarters (72 percent) believe all states should have the same standards at each grade level in math and English so students have to meet the same expectations no matter where they live. Moreover, nearly all American adults (92 percent) believe “where a family lives, how much money they make, or their race or ethnicity should not determine the quality of the education that a child receives.”

For full details, please visit:


April Issue Brief: Moneyball for Education

InCaseYouMissedIt_post_title_imageMichael Lewis’ book, Moneyball, which later became a motion picture starring Brad Pitt, details the transformation of baseball’s Oakland A’s through data analytics. The true story makes a compelling case that making decisions based on data is both cost effective and powerful.

In this month’s issue brief, we explore the ways in which a Moneyball approach could transform education at the federal, district, and classroom levels. We offer various resources, research reports, and ideas related to data use and data-driven improvement.

What gems have you found related to data-driven improvement—at the classroom, school, or district level? What tools and processes enable intuitive data modeling and analysis for educators? How can educators make the best use of data in their classrooms and schools? Please respond to our call for commentary. We’d love to hear from you!

To check out this month’s newsletter and access resources on this month’s topic, please follow this link:

To ensure you do not miss future issues, we encourage you to subscribe to the monthly newsletter by following this link: