States and districts must increase their ability to monitor, evaluate, and assess policies and practices for turning around low-performing schools. Seventy schools and associated districts in the Northeast and Islands Region have received federal School Improvement Grants, or SIGs, to help create high-quality, evidence-based practices for school turnaround. These districts and many others seek ways to identify and elevate locally developed success strategies for demonstrating improvement of student achievement. They also are interested in mining existing and emerging data systems to rapidly identify which groups of students may need targeted services and to track how those needs vary across districts.
The ability to address the challenges facing low-performing schools varies widely across our region. Some jurisdictions and districts have a history of innovation and sustained investment in using evidence to guide school improvement. These range from the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) system, which pioneered methods of using test score data to drive school improvement decisions, to the recent creation of the Research Alliance for New York City Schools. In contrast, other stakeholders, particularly those in rural communities or in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, have had limited opportunity and few resources to establish the infrastructure to create locally relevant, innovative, and evidence-driven practices for school improvement.