Site Selection CriteriaSchools highlighted for Turning Around Chronically Low-Performing Schools met the following six criteria:
1. The school met the requirements of adequate yearly progress (AYP) under No Child Left Behind (NCLB). At the time of site screening, AYP was examined for the most recent year available (2006-07).
2. The school had been chronically low performing, with a high proportion (generally 20% or more) of the students failing to meet state standards of proficiency in mathematics and/or reading for at least two consecutive years. The time frame for screening purposes included the years 2002-03 onward.
3. The school showed substantial gains in student achievement within a relatively short time (no more than three years) from the beginning of the implementation of the turnaround practices. This may include reducing the percent of students failing to meet state standards by at least 10%, showing similarly large improvements on other measures of academic performance, or improving overall performance on state tests by an average of 10 percentile points.
4. The school opened no later than the 2004-05 school year, to demonstrate a pattern of increasing test scores over multiple years. For example, for schools opened in 2004-05, not meeting AYP in 2004-05 and in 2005-06, and showing improvement in 2006-07 would qualify for inclusion under this criterion.
5. During this transition, the demographic composition of the student population did not change substantially. For example, the average socioeconomic status of students did not shift more than 10 percentage points.
6. The school used at least two of the practices recommended in the Practice Guide as part of its turnaround process. The number of key actions implemented under each practice was also considered for inclusion purposes.
To identify schools for potential inclusion, Doing What Works contractors asked researchers, district and state administrators, and associations and organizations involved in school turnaround to nominate schools which have been successful at quickly and dramatically improving student outcomes. Doing What Works contractors then obtained and evaluated several years of school outcome data, conducted screening interviews with schools that demonstrated turnaround test scores, and analyzed how well the schools' turnaround practices illustrated the recommendations of the Practice Guide.
Final site selection among the schools that met the screening criteria was made with the goal of achieving diversity in school size, types of communities, geographic locales, and student populations (e.g., grade levels, ethnic diversities). All else being equal, preference was given to schools with larger gain achievements.