Redefining the School District in America


By Nelson Smith

Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Publication June 2015
Report cover

This report reexamines existing recovery school districts (RSDs) and assembles the most comprehensive catalog of similar initiatives underway and under consideration elsewhere. The report first demonstrates the failures of “conventional school turnaround efforts” to increase student achievement. Subsequently, it explains that RSDs instead “bundle a coherent set of incentives, practices, and options—including the authority to create charter schools—into a single package.” After profiling three extant turnaround districts, it then provides an update on the status of Recovery School Districts (RSDs) in 13 states.

Key takeaways are listed in the introduction, and the recommendations for states can be found at the end of the report. In the conclusion, the authors acknowledge the need for more research on RSDs’ effectiveness in improving student achievement.

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Turnaround Capacity


State Education Agency