UVA School Turnaround Approach

  • We believe a powerful educational system that inspires teachers and students to achieve their full potential is possible and sustainable, and that it must begin in the most persistently underperforming schools.

    Our goal is to empower system- and school-level leaders to achieve dramatic improvement in a set of persistently underperforming schools. The lessons learned and successes achieved inform our strategies for expanding and sustaining success across the school system. The University of Virginia School Turnaround Program is rigorous, and we never lose sight of the real impact leadership can have on the lives of students.

    UVA School Turnaround Approach

    The University of Virginia School Turnaround Program is a three-year district and school leadership development program that emphasizes improving the school system’s conditions through four main levers of change:

    1. Leadership: Systems require the will and capacity to prioritize what is necessary to improve the lives of the children they serve and present a clear vision for the path ahead.
    2. Differentiated Support and Accountability: System leaders must provide schools with the capacity-building, support, accountability and flexibility needed to achieve urgent change. This support must be tailored to each individual system and school.
    3. Talent Management: Creating the environment for success requires having the right people in place to carry out the work. We work with districts to enhance the selection of school leaders, the number of highly effective staff and the development of existing staff.
    4. Instructional Infrastructure: A core component of our work involves data-driven instruction to create an evidence-based approach to better serve students. We work with system leaders to create and implement a cohesive assessment strategy, responsive data systems and a high-quality curriculum.

    Focusing on these levers, the program aims to create the system-wide infrastructure necessary to quickly, dramatically and sustainably improve student performance through the three-year process summarized below:

    Rethink

    PLANNING YEAR: RETHINKING THE SYSTEM TO SET THE STAGE

    • Identify district needs relative to four levers and develop ambitious strategies to address those needs
    • Conduct a rigorous selection process to identify school leaders who possess the competencies necessary to lead the school turnaround
    • Embark on world-class executive education to inspire district leaders to embolden and prioritize their turnaround plans

    Reignite

    REIGNITING LEADERS TO CO-CREATE SUCCESS

    • Participate in two summer Executive Education programs to ignite change in organizational structure and leadership practice
    • Participate in two winter Executive Education programs to strengthen teamwork, to increase empowerment among change agents and to drive strategic mid-course corrections
    • Attend spring retreats to help leadership process the lessons learned and determine changes necessary

    Redesign

    REDESIGN AND TRANSFORM PRACTICE

    • Continuously partner with the school throughout the school year to guide implementation
    • Make on-site visits to assess progress and identify next steps
    • Receive customized support from experienced professionals who have done the work and experienced success

    Transform

    ACHIEVE AND SUSTAIN MEANINGFUL RESULTS

    • Identify successful approaches to transform system-wide practice and inform further system redesign
    • Participate in a spring sustainability retreat in Year 3
    • Achieve initial results that inspire what is possible and set the stage for continuous improvement (more than half of our partner schools achieve double-digit gains in two years or less, and we have numerous examples of dramatic and sustained success)