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Home Publications State policies for intervening in chronically low-performing schools: A 50-state scan

State policies for intervening in chronically low-performing schools: A 50-state scan

by Mary Klute, Katie Mason, Marianne Reale, Laura Welp and David Yanoski

Recent federal initiatives such as School Improvement Grants and Elementary and Secondary Education Act flexibility emphasize the role of state education agencies in improving chronically low-performing schools. But state policies limit what actions state education agencies can take. As state education leaders and policymakers consider how best to intervene to improve these schools, they may wish to learn about the policies in other states. This report summarizes current policies in all 50 states related to state interventions in chronically low-performing schools. The policies describe the types of interventions that states are legally authorized to implement; however, states likely vary in the extent to which they actually implement the interventions. Six categories of policies related to intervening in chronically low-performing schools were identified: (1) Development or monitoring of school improvement plans; (2) Changes in staffing; (3) Closing a school; (4) Financial incentives or interventions; (5) Reforms to the day-to-day operation of the school; and (6) Changes related to the entity that governs or operates the school. State policies show a great deal of consistency in approaches to supporting chronically low-performing schools, perhaps because many of the interventions align closely with federal guidance for improving these schools. Despite strong alignment of state policies with federal guidance, state policies vary in the breadth of interventions they allow states to implement. About a third of states have policies in all six categories of interventions. Seven states have more limited options, with policies allowing interventions in only two or three of the six categories. State policies also vary in the specific interventions allowed within each category. This report can help state education leaders and policymakers learn how other states are approaching the challenge of turning around their chronically low-performing schools, which can facilitate communication among states that are considering similar approaches. The following are appended: (1) Procedures used to search for and code state laws and regulations; (2) Policies in place in each state by intervention category; and (3) Sources of policies by intervention category and state.

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