Giving Compass' Take:

• Collaborative for Student Success and HCM Strategists compiled a review of states' progress on improvement plans for struggling schools, and share three key learnings. 

• One finding from the review is that states are moving toward evidence-based practices to guide their improvement approaches. How can education donors support these schools, and which practices are best for school improvement?

•  Read about the common misconceptions about managing school improvement. 

More than 9 million children attend our country’s lowest-performing schools, the vast majority of them students of color. While we are familiar with the components of successful schools — attributes such as high expectations for all students, strong leadership, highly capable teachers, excellent curriculum, regular use of data, a safe learning environment, and attention to students’ social and emotional needs — knowing these components and using that knowledge to help struggling schools is one of the most intractable and pressing challenges in education.

Beginning this school year, the Every Student Succeeds Act gives states more flexibility — and more responsibility — to tackle the challenge of how to best help the lowest-performing schools and provide a more equitable education to their students.

The Collaborative for Student Success and HCM Strategists recently brought together an independent group of experts to examine 17 states’ approaches to this school improvement endeavor, using materials states have made publicly available to districts, as well as data collected by Education First from surveys and interviews with state education leaders.

Education First invited all 50 states and Washington, D.C., to share information about their progress so far and created snapshots of 41 state education agencies, providing a broader picture of what states across the country are wrestling with and the progress they have made thus far.:

  • States are trying to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to one that more systematically uncovers the unique, pressing issues and needs in each struggling school.
  • States are taking the federal requirement to use “evidence-based” practices and strategies in their school improvement approaches seriously.
  • Many states still need to finalize their process for monitoring schools targeted for improvement.

Read the full article about school improvement by William Porter and Jim Cowen at The 74