Wendy Lecker: The Hoax of Turnaround Schools

Wendy Lecker,civil rights attorney,says that claims made on behalf of school turnarounds—firing the staff and leaders—are usually inflated or false.

“With their narrow focus on test scores, disruption and structural changes, such as firing staff, education reformers constantly push the notion of school and district “turnarounds.” However, turnarounds been widely proven as ineffective in improving the longer-term educational quality of targeted schools.

“The evidence shows that turnarounds result in, at best, temporary boosts in test scores that often fade after a few years. These policies also often do lasting damage to the school culture by getting rid of teachers and staff who know the students.

“Consequently, experts warn that aggressive turnaround strategies must be viewed with caution. Connecticut’s legislative education committee seemed unaware of this warning as it participated in a day of turnaround presentations, organized by the charter lobby, ConnCAN.

“The failure of the turnaround plan at Hartford’s Milner Elementary was documented in my last column.

“A second turnaround “model” presented by ConnCAN, Lawrence, Massachusetts, had all the characteristics of turnarounds that are more hype the help.”

Despite claims of success without additional resources, Lecker says this is untrue. Lawrence received millions in additional resources, and the results were unimpressive.

“The overall results from Lawrence hardly paint a picture of success. In the majority of subjects and grades reported, there was either no improvement in proficiency rates or an actual decline.”

Even Governor Cuomo of Néw York has looked to Lawrence as a model.

Wendy Lecker says: Keep looking

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