It was announced today that Illinois and five other states have signed on to be part of a school turnaround cooperative, a $75 million effort being led by a nonprofit that's been studying turnarounds called MassInsight. (See ISBE press release below.)
Compared to the other states, IL is considered to be ahead of the pack. It's already put out a state sponsored RFP and approved a list of preferred providers. It's already got 12 "super" LEAs who have promised to accelerate change in order to win extra money. It's got one of the nation's premier (only) turnaround providers in the form of AUSL, and a closely-integrated district-provider setup (ie the turnaround office in ONS, doing principal searches together). The new ED of the IEA used to run the Consortium for Education Change, the union initiative working on turnarounds around the state.
But even as turnarounds spread to the rest of the state and the country no one's sure whether the turnaround model works, or whether there are enough (any) people who want to do this kind of controversial, difficult work. Walking into a broken school, creating a new culture, and dealing with the mistrust, setbacks, and attacks from colleagues can't be anything easy.
So I wonder what would happen if those who opposed turnarounds flipped the switch and came up with a better, saner turnaround model. There's no stopping the turnaround train at this point, and a pretty good case to be made that some schools need a big shakeup in order to do what's best for kids. But if no one's doing it right, why not do it yourself?
Illinois targets struggling schools with new
Illinois partners with Mass Insight and five other states in
public-private initiative to improve lowest-performing schools
SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced today it will
participate in a three-year,
public-private partnership with five other states to develop
long-term reform strategies for their lowest-performing schools.
Illinois was selected to join the initiative, along with Colorado,
Delaware, Louisiana, Massachusetts
and New York by
Mass Insight Education and Research Institute, a Boston-based
education organization focused on closing achievement gaps.
excited to work with these states and Mass Insight to identify and implement
new strategies to turn around struggling schools,'' said State
Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. "This initiative, funded
by an unprecedented amount of federal dollars and private donations, calls for
dramatic broad-scale interventions.''
Partnership Zone Initiative will be funded by a variety of private and public
sources, including increased federal funding through the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act of 2009. Additional money for these six states could also be
awarded through the federal Race to the Top competitive grant program.
states will initially establish Partnership Zones in a limited amount of
districts with clusters of low-performing schools that will serve to
demonstrate the success of a more strategic approach to turnaround. Each
cluster of schools will be teamed with a lead partner, an organization that
directly supports principals in turning around schools. Lead partners are experienced
turnaround leaders selected by districts that have been pre-qualified by the
State Board of Education. The Illinois Partnership Zone will also include
assistance from "Supporting Partners" who will help the district and
lead partners improve the effectiveness of teachers and principals in Partnership
will likely select the initial Partnership Zone participants from the 12
districts or Local Education Authorities (LEAs) that have signed on to
accelerate improvement efforts as "Super LEAs'' in the
state's Race to the Top Application. Schools chosen for the Partnership
Zone will be given a higher degree of priority to receive funding through Illinois' share of
federal school improvement grants, and may receive as much as $750,000 per
school year for three years.
of the additional funding will go toward increased teacher compensation to
support extended learning time, intensive professional development and
incentive pay in Partnership Zone schools.
Super LEAs, as identified in the state's Race to the Top Application,
- Community Unit
School District 300
- De Pue
- Decatur School
- Kankakee School
- Meridian Community
- Peoria School
- Plano Community
- Rich Township
- Rockford Public Schools District 205
- Elgin Unit
School District 46
- Thornton Fractional Township High School District
- Zion-Benton Township
Partnership Zone is a hybrid model that combines the benefits of a district
with the operating flexibilities most frequently associated with charter
schools. Zone schools remain inside the district and may continue to tap into
the efficiencies of many districtwide services. However, Zone schools also give
school level leaders the freedom to make staffing, scheduling, curriculum and
salary decisions, in return for being held accountable for dramatic student
achievement gains within two years.
six states were selected for this group based on:
- A commitment to the Partnership Zone framework set
forth in Mass Insight's 2007 report, The Turnaround Challenge;
- A commitment to investing the resources necessary for
successful turnaround; and,
- Alignment and support of state leadership.
plan to launch Partnership Zones on a flexible but aggressive timeline; with
some states, including Illinois,
implementing zones as early as the 2010-11 school year.