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How NC turned around low-performing schools

In early March, the Public School Forum of North Carolina invited Pat Ashley, the former director of the District and School Transformation Division at the Department of Public Instruction, to share her experiences leading the state’s effort to turn around low-performing schools.

She presented to the Forum’s Study Group on LowPerforming Schools on how the state intervened in schools and districts when the federal program Race to the Top was helping fund state efforts from 2011 until recently, and also what the department did prior to that. 

Below we have three videos.

In the first, you can see Ashley’s presentation. Here is the Turnaround History PowerPoint you can use to follow along. And here is a document giving a 20-year history of state turnaround efforts.

In this second video, Ashley takes questions from the Study Group.

And in this final video, the Forum brought together a panel of school and district leaders to discuss their experiences with low-performing schools. The panel consists of:

  • Erin Swanson, principal, Martin Millenium Academy
  • John Farrelly, superintendent, Edgecombe County Schools
  • Catherine Edmonds, director and executive coach, Northeast Leadership Academy District and School Transformation
  • Pascal Mubenga, superintendent, Franklin County Schools

The Study Group is moving into a work session phase, where the members will come up with proposals for policy and program solutions that could help the state with its school and district turnaround efforts.

Editor’s Note: Many thanks to the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation for providing these videos.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados was the senior reporter for EducationNC from December 2014-March 2023.