Beyond the Mountains: An Early Look at Restructuring Results in California

Liam Julian

Center on Education Policy
February 2007

The title of this report is based on a Haitian proverb: Beyond the mountains are more mountains. Appropriate because, for the Golden State's lowest-performing schools (those required to restructure under NCLB), which this report is about, the challenges seem to stretch on forever. This study builds on CEP's first California restructuring review and is based on data analysis, interviews with state and district officials, and four case studies of districts with schools in restructuring. CEP finds that more California schools are entering restructuring. In 2005-2006, 401 schools were in the planning or implementation phase of restructuring; a year later, the number had jumped to 701. And between those two years, no school in the implementation phase made sufficient achievement gains to exit school improvement. All in all, really bad schools aren't getting any better, even while in restructuring. Probably that's because 89 percent of schools, instead of submitting to restructuring's demanding prescriptions, such as reopening as charter schools, use the "any other method" restructuring option. That's an NCLB loophole that lets bad schools off the hook (see here), and which often translate to little serious reform being undertaken. The report concludes that if restructuring in California is to be successful, it will require more support and monitoring, and perhaps even changes in the way Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is calculated-schools may need to receive credit for hitting targets on the road to AYP, not just when they reach it. Read the report here.

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