School Turnaround Community of Practice
Strategies for Community Engagement in School Turnaround
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This paper examines one essential tactic for making school turnaround more effective: community engagement. To explore community engagement in action, the Reform Support Network (RSN) conducted reviews between April and August of 2013 of 11 States and districts, urban and rural, engaged in the communities surrounding low-performing schools. The enquiry yielded five primary lessons or takeaways about successful community engagement: make engagement a priority and establish an infrastructure, communicate proactively in the community, listen to the community and respond to its feedback, offer meaningful opportunities to participate, and turn community supporters into leaders and advocates.
The school districts and States reviewed in this report include Academy for Urban School Leadership (Chicago, Illinois); Boston Public Schools (Massachusetts); Baltimore City Schools (Maryland); Denver Public Schools (Colorado); Green Dot Public Schools (Los Angeles, California); Marvell-Elaine High School and Marvell-Elaine School District (Arkansas); Project L.I.F.T. in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (North Carolina); Louisiana Recovery School District; Minnesota Department of Education; Montana Office of Public Instruction; and the Tennessee Achievement School District.
Below are several resources for community engagement from schools, districts, and States highlighted in this publication.
AUSL Marketing Materials
When asked by Chicago Public Schools to support the turnaround effort of a low-performing school, AUSL engages in a multi-pronged effort to increase understanding and build relationships with the school community before the start of the next school year. This involves sharing printed materials, such as brochures and flyers, with students, parents, educators, and the community before the school re-opens in the fall.
- Every Child Brochure [PDF, 569KB]This brochure provides information about the AUSL model and track record, and can be placed in the backpacks of current students to provide information about the AUSL approach to school turnaround.
- Back to School Event Flyer [PDF, 2.2MB]This flyer, describing a back to school event for students, parents and the school community, is printed in multiple languages.
- Back to School Doorhanger [PDF, 647KB]This doorhanger is designed to easily fit on the door handle of homes or classrooms and provides relevant information about the back to school event on the front.
- Letter and Flyer Announcing Turnaround [PDF, 1.2MB]This letter is provided to parents to announce the turnaround initiative and introduce AUSL.
Project L.I.F.T. Campaign Plan [PDF, 106KB]
In order to address negative public perceptions of its school improvement initiative, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools launched a campaign to redefine Project L.I.F.T. (Leadership and Investment for Transformation) and provide parents with the tools and support to become engaged partners and advocates in their schools. This Project L.I.F.T. campaign plan outlines the district's approach to reshape the story of the initiative with a focus on project goals and outcomes.
As part of its Parent Academy, Green Dot Public Schools prepares parents to lead and speak on behalf of their families and peers as community organizers. The Building Parent Engagement Programs at Green Dot Public Schools 2013 Annual Report explains both the theory and practice of helping parents and families drive education reform.
Green Dot Public Schools incorporates parent engagement as a critical part of its turnaround strategy and utilizes community partners to provide direct services in order to support student learning and family engagement. This guidebook describes Green Dot's approach to school turnaround and outlines its strategies for engaging parents and the broader community early in the turnaround effort.
This website hosts the meeting agendas and resources of the Far Northeast Community Committee (FNECC). Denver Public School officials organized the FNECCmembers included parents and other key stakeholdersin 2010 to inform the school board's decisions on school improvement plans. Community planning experts facilitated the committee's 10 meetings and all materials were posted online for public access.
Education Resource Strategies analyzed strategies to turn around low-performance schools undertaken by six large urban districts and four education management organizations and then developed 10 case studies. The attached case study is about school turnaround in Denver Public Schools.