Turn around schools: Principal Autonomy Pilot Program

Making positive change is by definition, good.  Rep. Manny Diaz believes principals need more autonomy in order to improve schools.  In a pilot program he sponsored, three high performing principals in seven districts would be allowed to choose a nationally recognized turn around program for schools that have received a ‘D’ or an ‘F’ twice in the past two years.  These schools are near but not at the level of Florida’s programs for failing schools.

The turn around model of transforming schools with student low achievement assumes that the school leadership has been unable to create an appropriate school learning environment.   Principals would bring in a three member leadership team and have increased fiscal and management authority.  Staff development, student services and the use of data to inform instruction are typical components.  In some models, rewards for individual teachers based on student learning gains are provided.

Teaching and learning strategies including additional time in school are typical turn around strategies.  Some programs adopt a ‘no nonsense’ student discipline model in which every aspect of children’s behavior is monitored, rewarded and/or punished.

Turn around models.  The approach to school improvement may vary.  The rules governing this latest principal autonomy project for nearly failing schools will be adopted at the State Board of Education meeting in Stuart on January 17th.  Districts must choose one of four national turnaround models that has at least a five year history.

National models typically include the following or a hybrid version of them:

Restarts:  Schools are closed and reopened as charters with new staff and management.  All former students are eligible to attend.

School Closure:  Schools cease to operate and students are transferred to other schools.

Turnaround schools:  Replace leadership and about one half of the teachers.  Extend teacher and student time in class.

Transformation:  New principal and leadership, professional development, financial incentives, additional instructional time

We have a turnaround school here.  I have been looking at the data and have a lot of questions.  If I can find answers, I will share them in a blog post.

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