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Turning Around Turnaround Schools

What to Do When Conventional Wisdom and Best Practice Aren't Enough

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Turning Around Turnaround Schools by Frank Desensi
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A Practical Guide for K-12 Schools in an Era of High-Stakes Accountability Turning Around Turnaround Schools, now in its 2nd edition, is the go-to resource for leaders working in or with turnaround schools. In a practical "what to do" format - rich with concrete examples and tools to implement at your school - this book helps schools find relevant and targeted best practices for improving student achievement in an era of high-stakes accountability. Turning Around Turnaround Schools explores the idea of "student as learner" vs. "student as performer," and helps educators to capture and sue the right data. Written by a team of educators from Educational Directions, LLC, this book shares lessons learned, as well as proven strategies and processes implemented with struggling schools, both urban and rural, in several states. The book chronicles the changes in perceptions, practices, and assumptions made by these educators during their 20 years of working with "turnaround schools." The authors focus on areas that produced the greatest leverage in changing schools (e.g., identifying all the learnings and learner characteristics required by standards or developing causal data streams) and on some of the barriers that made these high leverage strategies difficult to implement (e.g., compliance cultures or entrenched programs). The book develops a new approach to the idea of intentional education, to educating the whole child, and to the process of using data to inform instruction. A major emphasis of the book is that change must be rooted in "output," not "input." Many of the early failures of conventional wisdom could be traced back to the fact that leaders were trying to change adult work, strategies, or materials without first defining the output that was expected from the students or identifying the causes of off-level performance. This 2nd edition guidebook contains assessments and toolkits that educational leaders can use - right away - to begin understanding and addressing the changes before them. The authors of Turning Around Turnaround Schools don't present their approach as a magic bullet to solve all turnaround school problems. Rather, they document how they had to address the fact that preconceived realities and assumptions limited their ability to move schools in a way that would predictably improve student performance. Their hope is that this book will stimulate a similar reevaluation in the readers so that they can come to grips with personal assumptions and deal with the barriers they will face as they come to grips and try to change practice in their schools. --- "Test scores cannot be used as the only indicator of a student's performance. Scores are a data point, and not a decision point. We must dig deeper to determine what is wrong with student work and why it breaks down. This causal analysis helps us to enable each child to maximize his or her potential." Educational Directions, LLC, (Ed Directions) is an educational consulting company providing training and leadership support for K-12 schools. Ed Directions was founded in 1998 to enable a group of retiring educators to continue working with schools struggling to improve student learning and performance. Since its establishment, the company has worked with both urban and rural schools, in several states, providing leadership development, assisting struggling schools, and collaborating with districts in developing programs and software to enhance school improvement. Learn more at

Author Biography

Frank DeSensi Frank DeSensi is the founder of Educational Directions, LLC, which consults with schools and school districts in the southeastern and midwestern United States. A retired educator, Frank spent 35 years in a variety of teaching and administrative positions. He taught at the university, college, secondary, and middle-school levels; worked in the central office as a curriculum specialist; and held both principal and assistant principal positions. From 1993 to 1998, Frank served as a Kentucky Distinguished Educator, helping to turn around schools that were labeled in decline or in crisis under the provisions of the Kentucky Education Reform Act. Frank helped develop the STAR training program for new DEs and served as a trainer in the Kentucky Leadership Academy. He jointly holds patents for three data-management systems for schools. Robert Knight, EdD Robert Knight is the director of literacy for Educational Directions. He spent 40 years in public education as a teacher, literacy and leadership specialist, principal, and change agent. After a 27-year career with Jefferson County Public Schools and the Kentucky Department of Education, he worked with the National Center on Education and the Economy/America's Choice and Transformations by Design and is currently a senior consultant for Educational Directions. Dr. Knight's work took him to more than a dozen states and 75 schools. Joe DeSensi, EdD Joe DeSensi is the president of Educational Directions. He has an undergraduate degree from Bellarmine University, a graduate degree in computer-resource management from Webster University, and a doctorate in leadership education from Spalding University. Dr. DeSensi has worked with Fortune 500 companies, federal and local government, and school districts across the Southeast. He developed custom and enterprise software to help districts track data and target students' needs, and he holds patents in school data-management software and database integration. Dr. DeSensi also teaches graduate classes in leadership, ethics, and operational design at Spalding University.
Release date NZ
May 26th, 2018
Illustrations, black and white
Silver Tree Publishing
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