Speaking of School Turnaround Stratgies: Do They Work?

In a recent post on my personal blog, I mentioned school turnarounds as a possible parallel to reforms of criminal justice and law enforcement. I wondered if it is possible to overhaul entire systems or institutions or whether new ones need to built in their stead. (My colleague Andy Smarick has strong opinions on this subject.)

Just in time, a blog post from TNTP (a national teacher effectiveness nonprofit and former Bellwether client), highlighted the question of the effectiveness of turnaround strategies. Rasheed Meadows writes:

The fact is that school turnarounds have a rocky history and a mixed track record, but there’s little evidence that milder interventions result in more meaningful changes for schools and kids. And we know for sure that inaction is not an option.

Read the rest of his post here, which includes Meadows’ personal experience leading–and reforming–a low-performing school in Massachusetts.

The question remains: how can reformers of any system–whether educational or carceral–determine whether to scrap an existing model and start from scratch or work to improve what exists?