Note: Heather Zavadsky, education consultant and author of School Turnarounds: The Essential Role of Districts, is guest-posting this week. This week I've been writing about the crucial role of districts in turnaround or school improvement. Turnaround is a tricky business that has its skeptics, particularly when talking about closing and/or restarting schools. Put well by one principal, "For years you beg parents and community members to come in, and no one comes. But at first mention of closing a school, they are practically knocking down your door." District and school leaders know how important schools are to their neighborhoods ...


Note: Heather Zavadsky, education consultant and author of School Turnarounds: The Essential Role of Districts, is guest-posting this week. In my last blog I asserted that dramatic school improvement, or turnaround, should leverage districts rather than individual schools to coordinate and align the necessary reform elements to scale and sustain performance improvement; particularly in struggling schools. I also acknowledged the tricky balance districts face when attempting to provide flexibility to schools while maintaining instructional coherence throughout the K-12 continuum. Real-world examples are useful for glimpsing at different improvement approaches that yielded positive achievement results, and seeing how districts strike the ...


Note: Heather Zavadsky, education consultant and author of School Turnarounds: The Essential Role of Districts, is guest-posting this week. Hello Straight Up Readers--great to be here. Before I launch into my topic, I'd like to define a couple points. Similar to Justin Cohen in his RHSU guest blog in April, when I say "turnaround," I am referring to the process of sparking dramatic improvement in chronically underperforming schools and districts. At times I might be referring to one of the four prescribed models from the US Department of Education's School Improvement Grant program (SIG), where, for instance, at least 50% ...


Hidy folks. So, a few moments ago, I sent off the revised copy-edits for my forthcoming book Cage-Busting Leadership, due out in February from Harvard Ed Press. Between that and prepping my Borscht Belt shtick for the PIE-Net gala last night, I'm in need of a break. Doubly so when I get an email missive from NCEE's Marc Tucker opining that incentives "don't work" in education (Newsflash: When veteran teachers use seniority to flock to more affluent, comfortable schools--that's an incentive at work right there. When you pay teachers for credentials, and throngs get mediocre training to obtain credentials they ...


Cool new book out that I think you might want to eyeball. It's the product of a terrific collection of thinkers gathered under the auspices of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. After three years of thought and discussion, ably steered by Harvard University's Bob Schwartz and Jal Mehta, the crew has produced a book that sketches six (sometimes complementary - and sometimes not) visions of school reform. The book is The Futures of School Reform, just published by Harvard Education Press last week. (Full disclosure: I'm the third editor on the volume, and coauthored the introduction and one of ...


We're rolling into the final sprint to the election; this makes it a good time to look back at what the Obama administration has done with its time in office. As I see it, here's the good and the bad from the administration's first term when it comes to K-12. The Good: Especially through Race to the Top, the administration aggressively encouraged states to uproot anachronistic institutional barriers when it comes to things like data firewalls and charter caps. This kind of support made it possible for governors and legislators to rally the votes needed to overcome opposition from unions, ...


Yesterday, in the new issue of the quarterly National Affairs, Andrew Kelly and I argue that it's possible to devise a coherent, principled, and limited vision of the federal role in education-- and that such a vision offers an overdue and crucial alternative to the well-intentioned overreaching that has characterized federal ed policy for over a decade. We begin by observing: The conservative approach to education policy is nothing if not confused. Conservatives cheer top-down federal standards and accountability while demanding bottom-up parental choice. They call for eliminating the federal Department of Education, but support spending on major federal education ...


As I wrote recently, the most intriguing edu-innovations are those tools that are cost-effective and able to be replicated at scale. They're not dependent on recruiting or training thousands of superhero teachers and don't claim to fix schools or classrooms. Instead, they're tools that might be able to help teachers do one important piece of their job a little bit (or a lot) better. Once upon a time, the list pretty much stopped at Wireless Generation and SchoolNet. Nowadays, the field is rife with intriguing ventures--including outfits like LearnZillion, MasteryConnect, and BetterLesson. One challenge that teachers wrestle with is how ...


Today, we're running a one-off guest blog. I don't usually do this sort of thing. Actually, I don't believe I've ever done it before. My policy on guests has always been to turn the blog over a week at a time during my occasional respite. But, what the hell... it's good to try new things. Here's the deal: Neerav Kingsland, CEO of New Schools for New Orleans and occasional RHSU guest blogger, wrote last week with a proposition. He and John Thompson (of "This Week in Education" fame) had penned a piece that explored key agreements between these sharp (and ...


The Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel reached a tentative agreement yesterday, and it wasn't a good day for Rahmbo or for would-be reformers. Today Democratic ed reformers will be cranking up their spin machines to explain why Rahm didn't really get rolled by the CTU. (And, let's be honest, Democrats account for about 90+ percent of both the education blob and the education reform community.) But, while they get to work spinning this thing, let's take a look at who came out where. Rahm Emanuel: loser- In a strike where Rahm appeared to have the upper hand, ...


The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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