Background – Turning Around Low-Achieving Schools in Colorado

The bottom 5% of public schools in the country have chronic low-achievement and need dramatic change. This is one of the most important issues for our country and our state. There have been a few successes in turnaround efforts, but more often than not, turnarounds aren’t working. As Dr. Howard Fuller, former superintendent of schools in Milwaukee, told a Denver audience recently, “The data out there on turnarounds is abysmal.” In his words, “It is excruciatingly difficult” to transform a school where its culture and performance are so weak. So it matters to know what Colorado is—and is not—doing, to learn from past mistakes, and to take advantage of over $45 million in grants from the federal government to tackle this critical issue.