Authors: Benjamin R. Shear, Elena Diaz-Bilello, Sanford R. Student, and Medjy Pierre-Louis
Suggested Citation: Shear, B.R., Diaz-Bilello, E., Student, S.R., and Pierre-Louis, M. (2021). Evaluation of Colorado School Turnaround Network and School Turnaround Leadership Development Grants: Descriptive analysis of 2015-2020 cohorts. Boulder, CO: The Center for Assessment, Design, Research and Evaluation (CADRE).
As part of a broader strategy to help support the lowest performing schools in the state, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) launched the School Turnaround Network (STN) program in 2014-15 and subsequently launched the School Turnaround Leadership Development (STLD) program the following year. The STN program approaches supports using a comprehensive, holistic perspective by ensuring that entities across three levels (state, district, and school) work together to coordinate school improvement strategies for each school participating in the network. STN participants receive these supports for a three-year period. The STLD program focuses specifically on school leadership development and building the capacity of school leaders to lead and sustain difficult changes at participating schools. The theory of action for these programs and related supports, provided to the lowest performing schools through the Empowering Action for School Improvement (EASI) grants, posits that supports provided by CDE will improve student academic performance and other indicators of school quality over time. To date, 151 schools have received state support through these two programs.
The Center for Assessment, Design, Research and Evaluation (CADRE) at the University of Colorado Boulder was asked by the CDE to form a partnership and carry out studies that would address two areas of interest: 1) build on prior analyses to describe the impact of the STN and STLD programs on student academic performance as evaluated by the state summative assessments; and 2) carry out case studies of select turnaround schools to identify and learn about the work these schools have done as participants in these programs. This report focuses on the first area of interest and provides descriptive analyses of student academic performance at participating schools since the inception of both programs. For this report, we analyzed longitudinal administrative data collected by the state to track the academic performance of schools. The analyses contained in this report focus on the set of schools receiving STN and STLD supports. We also compare the academic performance of these schools to the schools that were eligible to receive these supports but did not participate in these or other EASI programs. Our analyses describe performance trends and patterns for each cohort of STN and STLD schools. We describe trends for each cohort separately rather than in a combined group due to factors such as: differences in STN and STLD program eligibility rules each year, distinct performance trends in each cohort, and the differential impacts of state testing changes on each cohort of schools during this time period.