Support the news

How Do You Help A Struggling School? Get A Good Principal16:14
Download

Play
This article is more than 7 years old.
Monson High School students receive their diplomas in June, 2011 in Monson, Mass. (AP/Steven Senne)
Monson High School students receive their diplomas in June, 2011 in Monson, Mass. (AP/Steven Senne)

How do you take a struggling school and make it successful? It's a fundamental problem that has long challenged educators and policy makers.

And it's an urgent problem as well, an urgency underscored by the fact that the federal government spends millions — in some years billions — of dollars each year trying to affect change in the nation's worst performing schools.

In March, Massachusetts received $7.8 million of that turnaround money, what's known as School Improvement Grants.

To receive a grant, a schools system must agree to one of four plans:

  1. Replace the principal.
  2. Convert the school into a charter or hand the reins over to an education management organization.
  3. Close the school.
  4. Replace the principal, screen the staff and rehire no more than half of the teachers.

That last one happens more often then you'd think. In the Boston Public Schools, of 11 schools classified as turnaround schools, seven have seen half the teaching staff turnover.

But just how effective are these turnaround measures? Well a state-commissioned report presented to the state board of Elementary and Secondary Education last week found mixed results - and particularly, that replacing half the staff is not necessarily an effective strategy. But one clear indicator on whether or not a school improved was the principal.

Guest:

  •  Paul Reville, state education secretary

This segment aired on April 30, 2012.

+Join the discussion
TwitterfacebookEmail

Support the news