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​​​Turnaround Principles

Illinois CSI, under Illinois State Board of Education guidance, will provide priority services to identified districts. The U.S. Department of Education's seven turnaround principles serve as the organizing topics for the Illinois CSI’s priority service line. The federal turnaround principles that guide the work are designed to be meaningful interventions or practices that will improve the academic achievement of students. 

The seven principles are as follows: 
  • ​Provide strong leadership. 
  • Ensure that teachers are effective and able to improve instruction. Review the quality of all staff and retain only those who are effective and have the ability to be successful in the turnaround effort. 
  • Redesign the school day, week, or year to include additional time for student learning and teacher collaboration. 
  • Strengthen the school’s instructional program based on student needs and ensure that the instructional program is research based, rigorous, and aligned with state academic content standards. 
  • Use data to inform instruction and for continuous improvement, which includes providing time for collaboration on the use of data. 
  • Establish a school environment that improves school safety and discipline and addresses other nonacademic factors that impact student achievement, such as students’ social, emotional, and health needs. 
  • Provide ongoing mechanisms for family and community engagement (U.S. Department of Education, 2012). 

​Turnaround Principle


1. ​Strong Leadership

​The first turnaround principle does not focus on the actions of a single turnaround principal. Elements that make up this principle discuss the distribution of leadership at all levels:
  • The critical role of instructional leaders within the school district. 
  • The district’s role in ensuring the right conditions for the work of school improvement. 
  • The role of the district leadership team.
  • Communication within a district. With all the necessary changes occurring in a turnaround environment, clear channels of communication are critical for obtaining staff buy-in and ensuring full implementation. 
  • How the district strategically plans for overall improvement.

2. Effective Teachers

​The second turnaround principle focuses on the key areas related to leader and teacher development that can improve teacher practice and student achievement:
  • Key practices related to the implementation of PLCs. 
  • Available professional learning opportunities. 
  • Third element discusses the practices related to managing educator talent through effective evaluation and incentive policies.

​3. Redesign of Time for Learning and Collaboration

​The third turnaround principle focuses on the key areas related to time spent on instruction on a daily basis: 
  • Time allotted for data-based decision making.
  • Structures related to maximizing instructional time for expanded learning opportunities.

4. Aligned and Rigorous Instruction

​The fourth turnaround principle looks at whether a coherent instructional guidance system is directing instruction in the district:
  • Whether schools have the necessary aligned curricular frameworks to guide their instruction.
  • Expectations and practices related to curriculum, instruction, and assessment. 
  • The extent to which academic interventions and enrichment are provided to identified students.

5. Data to Inform Instruction and Improvement

​The fifth turnaround principle looks at the extent to which student achievement and progress toward turnaround goals are being monitored and used to inform school practices:
  • Assessment practices across the district and how those data are used. 
  • A district wide system for collecting relevant data. 
  • The degree to which a district is tracking and using leading and lagging indicators. 
  • The use of an early warning system to identify students who are struggling academically and provide them with the necessary support.

6. Student-Centered Environment and Climate

​The sixth turnaround principle examines the degree to which there is a student-centered climate in the district:
  • Structures that encourage adult relationships with students. 
  • If and how student voices and choices are heard and encouraged in the district. 
  • Social and emotional interventions available to students across the district.

​7. Family and Community Engagement

​The seventh turnaround principle is divided into three elements: 
  • Whether there is a parent and community engagement plan in place to organize targeted parent and community engagement. 
  • Outreach with the wider community, including outside organizations and businesses. 
  • Whether there is ongoing two-way communication with families and the extent to which families are encouraged to support student learning at home.​

The content on this page is a modification of the "Implementation Continuum for School Turnaround and
Transformation," a guide originally created by American Institutes for Research (AIR) in January
2013 for AIR client districts.​

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