School Turnaround Report Fails to Meet Standard of Evidence, Says NEPC Review

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Key New NEPC Review Takeaway: Report relies on flawed, test-based strategies to define turnaround success.

A recent report from researchers at Public Impact claims to develop a helpful model for defining turnaround success, with metrics and cut scores that reach beyond student achievement tests to include indicators of engagement by students, parents and teachers; teacher and leader effectiveness; and short-term learning outcomes.

However, a review of the report concludes that, given the dearth of research evidence and sound methodological techniques incorporated into its analysis, as well as the omission of several rigorous, peer-reviewed studies that contradict the majority of its proposals, the report does not meet a minimal standard of evidence to support its claims.

University of California Berkeley professor Tina Trujillo and Texas State University professor Marialena Rivera reviewed Measuring School Turnaround Success for the Think Twice Think Tank Review Project at the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder’s School of Education.

Trujillo and Rivera explain that, despite the report’s stated intentions, it focuses largely on standardized test scores. The result distracts attention and potential resources from schools’ other goals, including civic, social, emotional, and broader academic goals.

In the end, the report puts forth yet another proposal that encourages state leaders to continue over-relying on flawed, test-centered strategies. Policymakers and practitioners looking for guidance on measuring turnaround success will not find worthwhile recommendations. Instead, the reviewers conclude, they will encounter several unsubstantiated ones and others that are contradicted by solid peer-reviewed research.

Find Tina Trujillo and Marialena Rivera’s review at:

Find Measuring School Turnaround Success, by Public Impact’s Cassie Lutterloh, Jeanette P. Cornier, & Bryan C. Hassel, published by WestEd’s Center on School Turnaround, at:

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) Think Twice Think Tank Review Project ( provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice:

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at:

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William J. Mathis

Tina Trujillo
University of California Berkeley
(510) 517-0874
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