Turning Around Low Performing Urban Schools

It’s not easy being the principal of a low-performing urban school. All eyes will be on you to make adequate progress and improve student achievement within a specific timeframe. As such, you need to have a strong leadership presence to turn around a failing school successfully. This article looks at the top strategies you can adopt for your turnaround school.

Get to the Root of the Problem

The first thing to do is to diagnose the problem. The big question is, “What are the biggest factors affecting student achievement in this school?” Otherwise, without an accurate diagnosis, it’s difficult to develop an effective cure and diagnosis. There are many factors that can affect low-performing schools, including poor administration, poor facility conditions, and lack of teaching and learning materials.

Once you get to the root of the problem, it’s also important to set targets that take the school from where it currently is to where it should be. Setting targets will give you a good starting point and motivate you since you have an end goal in sight.

Improve Instruction

Principals are school leaders that have a crucial role in improving the quality of instruction. There are several ways to do this. You can start by setting high expectations so that teachers and students focus on improving their performance. They are educational leaders first and administrators second.

Therefore, they always make an effort to connect with teachers and know what’s going on in the classroom. You have to embody the values of instructional leadership, including having and sharing a vision for your school. You must invite and encourage all relevant parties to contribute toward making that vision a reality.

Build a High-Performing Staff

In some instances, you have teachers that want to be left alone to do as they please in the classroom. It’s your responsibility as principal to challenge this mindset as it leads to fragmented teacher effort. Instead, you should strive to build a dedicated and committed staff that can help you succeed with your turnaround efforts.

The good news is that if you focus on being a good principal, you should have no problem attracting and retaining high-quality teachers. When you develop an organization that provides the right level of administrative support, word will get around. This is one of the top factors teachers consider when deciding to move to a new school.

Shared Decision Making

Being a principal and a leader doesn’t mean you have to make all your decisions. If the goal is to turn around a low-performing school, it’s essential to build a successful shared decision-making model. It’s only through professional collaboration with teachers and parents that you can make better and more effective decisions while getting the support you need.

One way to ensure teacher involvement in decision-making is by creating a school improvement committee or a principal’s advisory committee that can make recommendations and decisions on pressing topics.

Focus on Your Professional Development

Even though principals are already occupying leadership positions, pursuing professional development opportunities is still crucial. That’s because there’s always room for improving your leadership and management skills. For instance, you can consider a Master’s degree in Urban Education, which can help you enhance your ability to empower students and staff in an urban educational setting.

One of the major reasons behind failing school systems is the lack of skilled and trained school leaders. Thus, professional development for principals must be ongoing as this is part of being an effective leader.

Leverage Data Analytics

Knowing how to use the data at your disposal can help determine if you’re moving in the right direction and staying on track. By looking at data derived from classes and students, you can accurately measure the change in performance and make the necessary adjustments. Data analysis can help you assess a wide range of areas, such as students’ learning abilities, and it can also shape your improvement plans for the school. To use data effectively, you can invest in data management systems and select the right data.

As a turnaround principal, you’re one of the most important drivers behind improved teaching and learning throughout the entire school. Applying these tips will put you in the best position to do what you do best.

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