Grandson IV, Charles Alexander, Jamie Brett Chisum, Anna Carollo Cross, and Jill S. Geiser. “Turning Around Schools”, Boston College, 2014. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/3815.
This single case study examines how stakeholders of a local education agency (LEA) understand and implement state turnaround policy for its chronically underperforming schools. While there is ample research on how to improve chronically underperforming schools, a research gap exists specifically around addressing implementation of mandated turnaround policy. This qualitative study uses the theory frame of policy sense-making to identify how implementers come to understand turnaround policy and to explore how that sense-making impacts their implementation decisions. This study seeks to understand the role of central office in turnaround policy sense-making by collecting data on superintendent and central office administrator sense-making and its impact on policy implementation. While recent research on school improvement has focused on school improvement actions and responsibilities of principals and teachers, this study seeks to address the research gap of the essential role of school district offices in school turnaround. In seeking to understand how district leaders make sense of turnaround policy implementation to support school turnaround, the findings revealed that the superintendent and central office administrators identified strong superintendent leadership, monitoring and supporting schools, strategic distribution of resources, and management of human capital as key implementer actions and areas of influence.