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Teacher turnover is playing a critical role in Tennessee’s ambitious efforts to turn around its lowest performing schools, according to a new Vanderbilt report.
Gary Henry and other researchers at the Tennessee Education Research Alliance at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development partnered with the University of Kentucky’s Ron Zimmer to examine the extent to which Tennessee schools engaging in school turnaround models have been able to recruit and retain highly effective teachers.
Examining data from the 2012-13 school year through 2014-15, the study focused on teacher retention in the two largest efforts to turn around Tennessee’s priority schools—those that rank in the bottom 5 percent in performance. They are:
As of 2014-15, there were 28 additional Tennessee schools identified on the original priority school list supported by their districts under different arrangements.
“The story seems to be one of general success in getting effective teachers in the door of these turnaround schools, and the iZone schools are also managing to keep and improve them,” said Gary Henry, Patricia and Rodes Hart Distinguished Professor of Public Policy at Peabody. “Now we need to look more closely at what’s happening inside all these schools and among the governance models to better understand what’s working, and what’s not.”
The findings add to the picture painted by several previous Peabody reports, which examined Tennessee’s turnaround approaches in terms of student characteristics, learning outcomes, and mobility, as well as stakeholder perceptions.
“Part of the motivation for the examination was to see if we could provide insights into the student achievement results we saw in our last year study,” said co-author Ron Zimmer, director of the University of Kentucky’s Martin School of Public Policy.
“This important work on teacher retention and effectiveness is another piece of the overall puzzle about what is and is not effective in driving improvement in low-performing schools in Tennessee,” said Erin O’Hara, executive director of the Tennessee Education Research Alliance. “We will continue to dig into the policies, practices and outcomes of schools in the Achievement School District, Innovation Zones and other models to provide them with actionable research on key areas of school improvement.”
The Tennessee Education Research Alliance is a unique research partnership between Peabody College and the Tennessee Department of Education committed to informing Tennessee’s school improvement efforts with useful, timely and high-quality studies.
Joan Brasher, (615) 322-NEWS
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