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NASBE’s State Education Standard Explores School Turnaround Strategies

For Immediate Release: May 10, 2018

Contact: Michael Spaeth,, 703-684-4002 

NASBE’s State Education Standard Explores School Turnaround Strategies

Alexandria, VA – The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) offers state policymakers an opportunity to reset how they address low-performing schools. States can capitalize on the added flexibility under ESSA and approaches already adopted in many states and districts to help struggling schools. The new issue of NASBE’s award-winning journal, The State Education Standard, showcases a variety of these approaches for state boards of education and state education agencies to consider.

Erica Champagne of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and American Institutes for Research’s Susan Bowles Therriault discuss the encouraging outcomes that emerged from a focus on research linked to school monitoring in Massachusetts. Former public education secretary Hanna Skandera outlines the approach she led in New Mexico.

Gonzaga University researchers Suzann Girtz, Chuck Salina, and Joanie Eppinga discuss a framework used in a Washington State district that focuses on changing the culture of learning. Chief Turnaround Officer Eric Thomas and Chairman Scott Johnson talk about the Georgia state board’s role in guiding the state’s new approach to turnaround.

Nelson Smith, former CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and Brandon L. Wright of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute write about three approaches that are already in use: charter expansion, state turnaround districts, and state-led, district-based solutions. New America’s Roxanne Garza and Melissa Tooley describe district models for turnaround leadership that have freed up principals to focus on instructional improvement while devolving some of their administrative tasks.

Other authors offer overarching principles to guide the work of school improvement. Carlas McCauley of WestEd’s Center on School Turnaround urges a systemic approach that embraces leadership, talent development, instructional transformation, and culture shift. The Institute for Student Achievement’s Stephanie Wood-Garnett and Betty Greene-Bryant list 10 research-based principles to guide turnaround of high schools, such as creating a safety net for students, embracing a culture of continuous improvement, having strong leadership teams, and more.

Additionally, Robert E. Slavin of the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University discusses ESSA’s evidence standards and offers guidance to state boards looking for assurance that their states’ school turnaround approaches might really work.

Read the full May 2018 issue of The State Education Standard. Individual articles can be downloaded here.

NASBE is the only national organization giving voice and adding value to the nation’s state boards of education. A nonprofit organization founded in 1958, NASBE works to strengthen state leadership in educational policymaking, promote excellence in the education of all students, advocate equality of access to educational opportunity, and ensure continued citizen support for public education. Learn more at


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