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New Research Examines Lessons From Lawrence’s School District Turnaround

New research on district turnaround efforts in Lawrence, MA finds that its leaders improved public response to the turnaround by employing a “third way” approach that transcended political polarization in the education space.

The ‘third way’ approach is illustrated by five examples – differentiated levels of school autonomy and decision-making, a diversified set of school managers, strategic staffing decisions, a balanced approach to academic achievement and overall enrichment, and a focus on generating early results while minimizing unnecessary disruption.

A new brief describing the results, School District Turnaround: Learning from Leadership in Lawrence, Massachusetts, was authored by Beth Schueler of the Harvard Kennedy School. Lawrence’s experience offers guidance for other district turnaround efforts in terms of unique contextual issues as well as leadership lessons applicable to other efforts.

School District Turnaround: Learning from Leadership in Lawrence, Massachusetts

About the Author

Beth E. Schueler is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Program on Education Policy and Governance at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Beth studies education policy, politics, and inequality with a focus on efforts to improve low-performing K-12 schools and districts. Beth received a doctorate in education policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and holds a master's degree in politics and education from Columbia University. Beth previously worked on legislative affairs at the New York City Council.

About the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston

The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government strives to improve the region’s governance by attracting young people to serve the region, working with scholars to produce new ideas about important issues, and stimulating informed discussions that bring together scholars, policymakers, and civic leaders. The Rappaport Institute was founded and funded by the Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation, which promotes emerging leaders in Greater Boston.