SOURCE: National Association of State Boards of Education

November 28, 2007 09:40 ET

Guidance for Restructuring Schools Under No Child Left Behind Act Issued by National State School Boards Association

ALEXANDRIA, VA--(Marketwire - November 28, 2007) - A new guide for state leaders who are considering the most severe educational reforms for improving chronically low-performing schools, including state takeovers, has been published by the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). The report, "Meeting the Challenge: The State's Role in Improving Low-performing Schools Through Restructuring," is the result of a year-long study by state board of education members and is being nationally distributed to state policymakers, federal officials and congressional leaders, and local educators.

States are being confronted with an ever increasing number of schools identified as persistently underperforming according to the No Child Left Behind Act's (NCLB) accountability system. These schools are in a phase NCLB calls "restructuring." While the federal law stipulates the school label and vests in states the ultimate responsibility in turning around these schools, NCLB does not specify how to fulfill that mandate nor have federal officials offered much guidance.

Because restructuring under NCLB is a recent phenomenon and little attention has been given to states that have had success in breaking the school cycle of failure, the NASBE guide is a resource elaborating on the multitude of restructuring options and providing research on which strategies have proven most effective. The report summarizes the pros and cons of such drastic strategies as wholesale staff replacements, converting the school into a charter, or state takeover.

"States are now dealing with the lowest of the low-performing, schools that have tried an array of improvement efforts that have proven ineffective. The issue for state leaders is which of the more extreme interventions is going to work best where others have failed. Our guide will help them answer that critical question," said Brenda Welburn, NASBE Executive Director.

The study found a real problem in the ability of state departments of education to provide the necessary turnaround assistance to districts and schools. Known as "state capacity," state agencies are suffering from a lack of funding, sufficient staff, and the expertise to deliver improvement services to the schools that needed it most.

"Our report couldn't be more timely," said Karl Girton, chairman of the report committee and chairman of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education. "Nearly 12,000 schools across the country are on track to be restructured. In addition, the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act is pending in Congress where lawmakers are interested in promoting the school improvement strategies that have shown to be the most effective at the state level. This report could be as helpful to federal policymakers as it is to state education leaders," said Girton.

The guide provides policy recommendations for all three education governance levels -- federal, state, and district -- to help support school turnaround efforts.

"Meeting the Challenge: The State's Role in Improving Low-performing Schools Through Restructuring," is available for purchase by calling (800) 220-5183 or online at

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