In 2017, the Center on School Turnaround at WestEd published the Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement: A Systems Framework, a framework to assist states, districts, and schools to improve student achievement in the lowest-performing schools. The framework immediately garnered national attention by outlining four areas of focus — Turnaround Leadership, Instructional Transformation, Talent Development, and Culture Shift — that research and experience suggest are central to rapid school improvement. These practices complement a growing national focus on improvement for the lowest-performing schools and greater support for persistently underperforming student groups.
Despite national attention on the need for school turnaround, many school districts across the United States are struggling to fund even the basic costs of school district operations, despite increases in funding. The fact is, revenues are not keeping pace with expenditures in many school districts across the country. As a result, the fiscal circumstances in local school districts and state education systems are increasingly challenging as costs for pensions, special education, employee healthcare, and other cost pressures continue to rise. Yet the need to support vulnerable student populations and struggling schools remains high.
This paper outlines strategies for how school districts can maximize the use of existing resources to support the practices outlined in the Four Domains.