How one school ‘turnaround’ worked (without firing the teachers)

New data released by the Education Department shows that the results of its efforts so far to turn around the country’s  lowest-performing schools are mixed. The Obama administration has been pushing its turnaround policy through the School Improvement Grant program, which requires districts that get the money to choose one of four corporate-based options to improve student achievement  (which is evaluated on standardized test scores). 

Critics say that the four options — which all involve changing some or all of the teachers and administrators, including one that calls for closing the school entirely — are all punitive and won’t likely work in the long run. There are, though, other ways to improve schools that focus on the children, not the adults. Here’s the story of one troubled school that was turned around with help from a data-driven dropout program called Diplomas Now, which targets and provides support to middle school students through mentoring relationships and is based on research by Johns Hopkins University Professor Bob Balfanz. Here, PBS’ Ray Suarez reports on a Baton Rouge middle school and its experiences with this program.

Correction: An earlier version incorrectly cited NPR instead of PBS.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · December 7, 2012