The Next Generation of State Reforms to Improve their Lowest Performing Schools: An Evaluation of North Carolina’s School Transformation Initiative. Over the past 20 years, significant resources have been spent to raise low-performing schools’ performance. This research examines the impact of federally mandated school reforms under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on North Carolina schools. The revised education legislation allows states more discretion in reforming their lowest-performing schools, removes requirements to disrupt the status quo, and does not allocate substantial additional funds. This study relies on a regression discontinuity design to evaluate North Carolina’s turnaround initiative aligned with ESSA requirements. The results reveal no significant growth in student test performance and decreased performance in year two. Schools also continued to experience high teacher turnover despite the school reform intervention.
The study authors suggest current reform interventions that do not disrupt the status quo of how schools go about instruction are likely to fail. The paper also highlights the need for school leaders to embrace implementation science to ensure that adequate resources are available to implement initiatives as designed.
Citation: Henry, G. T., & Harbatkin, E. (2020). The Next Generation of State Reforms to Improve their Lowest Performing Schools: An Evaluation of North Carolina’s School Transformation Intervention. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 13(4), 702-730.