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There's no mystery in turning around low-performing or failing schools, but there are also no recipes. In Turnaround Principals for Underperforming Schools Rosemary Papa and Fenwick English identify the essential ingredients for success. The causesof failure are complex and interactive. Schools are not inert structures but living organisms. Putting schools back together is a collaborative venture. It takes a team to turn around a school, but it all begins with the leadership. The key to success rests in a school leader who has a fundamental understanding of the dynamics of schooling, human motivation, and possesses the resiliency and energy to engage in altering the internal landscape of an unsuccessful school. Two veteran educators have put together a work based on their research and experience for the past half-century. They pull no punches. The challenge is not only to turn low-performing or failing schools around, but to enable them to become more socially just places for all students.
This book provides a valuable balance between what one must know and what one must do to turn around low-performing schools. The 3-E framework simplifies this complex process by focusing resources on the environment, the executive, and the execution of the turnaround plan. Central to each of these components is a spotlight on the values supporting change and an examination of the unique perspectives and actions required at the school, district and state levels in renewing chronically underperforming schools. A set of case studies on individuals who have led successful turnarounds of schools gives life to the theoretical concepts. These cases focus on the principal as turnaround specialist, offering leadership profiles from their varied perspectives and demonstrate the resilience of these leaders across settings and challenges. The book concludes with a discussion of how the developing field of school turnarounds affects educational policy in the K-12 and higher education arenas.
This book presents the outcomes of research and practical endeavour in some of the diverse contexts in which learning takes place: classrooms, schools, professional development settings, community projects and service sector agencies. It invites the reader to engage with two related questions of contemporary concern in the leadership field: "What can we learn about the important influence of different contexts on leadership practice and how are people brought together as collective human agents in different patterns of distributive leadership?" In doing so, this collection emphasises three of the critical concepts at play when leadership is viewed, not as position, but as activity. The three concepts are purpose, context and human agency. When this view of leadership is understood, it is always about achieving shared goals with people power, no matter the circumstances in which they are gathered together.
The concept of school turnaround—rapidly improving schools and increasing student achievement outcomes in a short period of time—has become politicized despite the relative newness of the idea. Unprecedented funding levels for school improvement combined with few examples of schools substantially increasing student achievement outcomes has resulted in doubt about whether or not turnaround is achievable. Skeptics have enumerated a number of reasons to abandon school turnaround at this early juncture. This book is the first in a new series on school turnaround and reform intended to spur ongoing dialogue among and between researchers, policymakers, and practitioners on improving the lowest-performing schools and the systems in which they operate. The “turnaround challenge” remains salient regardless of what we call it. We must improve the nation’s lowest-performing schools for many moral, social, and economic reasons. In this first book, education researchers and scholars have identified a number of myths that have inhibited our ability to successfully turn schools around. Our intention is not to suggest that if these myths are addressed school turnaround will always be achieved. Business and other literatures outside of education make it clear that turnaround is, at best, difficult work. However, for a number of reasons, we in education have developed policies and practices that are often antithetical to turnaround. Indeed, we are making already challenging work harder. The myths identified in this book suggest that we still struggle to define or understand what we mean by turnaround or how best, or even adequately, measure whether it has been achieved. Moreover, it is clear that there are a number of factors limiting how effectively we structure and support low-performing schools both systemically and locally. And we have done a rather poor job of effectively leveraging human resources to raise student achievement and improve organizational outcomes. We anticipate this book having wide appeal for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners in consideration of how to support these schools taking into account context, root causes of low-performance, and the complex work to ensure their opportunity to be successful. Too frequently we have expected these schools to turn themselves around while failing to assist them with the vision and supports to realize meaningful, lasting organizational change. The myths identified and debunked in this book potentially illustrate a way forward.
No greater challenge faces our society than improving the educational opportunities for millions of young people trapped in chronically low-performing schools. Overcoming this challenge requires talented and dedicated school leaders whose knowledge and skills extend far beyond what is covered in conventional principal preparation programs. This book draws on extensive research by the author and others on the actions needed to turn around low-performing schools. First, however, the book examines the personal qualities needed to undertake the turnaround process. Following chapters provide guidelines on diagnosing the school-based causes of low achievement and developing a school turnaround plan. The author focuses on the importance of continuous planning – a departure from standard practice. A major portion of the book is devoted to examples of first-order and second-order strategies for raising achievement. Specific recommendations for launching the turnaround process and sustaining gains beyond the first years of turnaround are provided. The concluding chapter addresses the role of school districts in supporting school-based turnaround efforts.
This book brings together many aspects of concepts and theories of leadership. It is an amalgam of ideas from the social sciences and the humanities woven together in the idea of leadership as an accoutrement, that is, a deliberate woven garment comprising science, art, experience, and craft knowledge.

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