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Book Review

School Turnarounds: The Essential Role of Districts

In this book, Zavadsky examines school turnaround, not by examining individual schools, but rather by discussing the process at the district level. Scaling turnaround is important because many past school-led approaches have either failed to move beyond incremental gains or were unsustainable. Zavadsky shows how turnarounds are being implemented in practice in very different contexts. In doing so she illustrates, within five case studies, how complex systems are addressing the essential elements of school improvement. The five districts each have their own unique features and challenges that make for interesting and informative case studies on scaling turnaround or school improvement at the district level. The districts are Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, The School District of Philadelphia, Denver Public Schools, Sacramento City Unified School District, and Long Beach Unified School District. The initial selection of these districts was based upon their application of a district-wide turnaround strategy and student achievement scores. Zavadsky contends that these districts illustrate how turnaround can be successfully implemented from “the trenches” to improve practices and increase achievement across schools.