Friday, February 1, 2013

School Turnaround Fever

This very interesting exploratory study examines and critiques the current fever for school turnarounds and considers implications of this trending reform approach for urban educators. The authors focus on the following questions:
1. In what ways does turnaround schooling constitute (and not constitute) innovative practice?
2. How successful has turnaround schooling been to-date in accomplishing the outcomes held for it by its advocates and implementers?
3. What is the degree of congruence between turnaround practices and democratic schooling?

They present their findings in the form of seven paradoxes that they believe characterize the turnaround movement’s historical roots, recommended practices, and outcomes to date.

Here are some of them:

Paradox 2: There is no evidence of widespread success of turnaround schooling (indeed, emerging evidence indicates extremely limited success at best), yet it receives high priority in federal education policy.

Paradox 3: Approaches to turning around schools (such as those described by the U.S. DOE) encompass some aspects of research-supported best practice, yet their more punitive aspects are counter to decades of human relations theory.

Paradox 5: The core constituents and members of schools are students, yet there is scant mention of students and their needs in the turn-around literature. Indeed, students are rarely separated from their achievement and thus are essentialized as concepts (i.e., “student achievement”), rather than treated as living beings.

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