State Strategies to Improve Chronically Low-Performing Schools

A new issue brief released by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices offers lessons drawn from its State Strategies to Improve Chronically Low-Performing Schools project, which sought to address underlying causes of failing schools: weak leadership; inadequate skill levels among teachers; and insufficient high-quality teaching materials. In 2009, the project gave Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Mississippi grant funds and consulting services to develop policies and plans for turning around chronically low-performing schools and districts. As a result, the report has several recommendations for building state capacity. States should engage external partners to manage school and district turnarounds; set ambitious but realistic goals for school improvement that incorporate multiple measures; develop a human capital strategy to improve the quality of leadership and teaching; and increase state authority to intervene in failing schools and districts if other approaches prove insufficient. School closure should be used only when a state or district authority is certain it can send students to a better-performing campus. “Fixing failing schools and districts is hard but necessary work for governors to ensure all students have access to an education that prepares them to compete in the modern economy,” according to the report. To read the policy brief, visit

Core Education is committed to working with states and districts to improve human capital strategies to positively impact low-performing schools. For more information about our services, see