Student Perspectives in the Series Turnaround Schools

As the U.S. Department of Education prioritizes turning around the nation’s lowest-performing schools, Education Week is collaborating with news organizations[1] present a series of articles, entitled Turnaround Schools, on turnaround efforts in five locales where federal School Improvement Grants have been awarded:  Chicago; Philadelphia; New York City; Denver; and Kentucky. One of the articles in the series highlights a Louisville, Kentucky, high school where the principal, Keith Look, replaced more than half of its teachers (via hand-picking mostly experienced teachers who were up for the challenge of a turnaround school). What is unique about this article is the focus on students, who describe notable differences in the school’s climate and expectations with the changes in staffing.  Many of the students express their wish for more motivational and preparatory support from their teachers in order to persist through graduation and into college. Another recent study echoes the value of student voice in understanding schooling.  The research paper by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Measures of Effective Teaching project indicates that student perceptions of the classroom instructional environment correlate with student performance. Harvard University’s Dr. Ronald F. Ferguson is leading the Tripod Project, which has developed surveys and analysis methods to gather student feedback about their classroom experiences.  Dr. Ferguson explained his motivation to the New York Times:  "As a nation, we've wasted what students know about their own classroom experiences instead of using that knowledge to inform school reform efforts."[2] We will endeavor to report on other ways that student input in incorporated into high school improvement efforts and the implementation of School Improvement Grants in high schools.  Share with us on Twitter or Facebook examples you know of where the student voice is being heard. Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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