An investigation of the effectiveness of turnaround interventions in a population of chronically failing schools in Texas
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The purpose of this study was to analyze the long-term (defined as three years) effectiveness of turnaround interventions and identify characteristics of public schools and the systems in which they were embedded that facilitated or impeded their ability of school systems to sustain improved turnaround outcomes. A population of 93 chronically failing schools for which turnaround interventions were implemented in 2016 was extracted from the Texas Education Agency’s Multi-Year Rating List comprised of 7,761 schools. The performance of these 93 schools in the three-year period after the interventions was tracked. Four performance patterns emerged: High Performers, Late Bloomers, Popcorn, and Ongoing Failing. The variables analyzed were classified into two categories. The first category addressed administration, enrollment, and teacher turnover. Five major findings emerged: most school turnaround interventions in Texas improved failing schools, but approximately half failed to reach the standard of “acceptable performance”; there was no consistent relationship between size of schools’ enrollments and failing schools, but the percentage of students attending chronically failing schools was higher in school systems with lower total student enrollment; elementary schools were substantially overrepresented; the population of failing campuses were located in school systems that averaged higher expenditures per pupil than the Texas average, but within this population campuses achieving an A or B ranking three years after the turnaround expended $1,250 more per pupil than school systems with campuses receiving F grades; teacher turnover was higher than the Texas average and teachers had fewer years of experience, but among the 93 failing schools, teacher turnover rates were higher at the schools rated A or B three years after the intervention than the cohort of systems ranked CDF. The second category analyzed student data. There were two major findings. First, African American, economically disadvantaged, and at-risk students were overrepresented in the chronically failing schools. Second, meaningful changes in the profiles between 2016 and 2019 were: an increase in per pupil expenditures by the systems with chronically failing schools; a decline in average enrollment; and an increase in the proportion of White students.