Why School Turnaround Failed: Lethal Problems

  • Joseph F. Murphy
  • Joshua F. Bleiberg
Part of the Education, Equity, Economy book series (EEEC, volume 6)


The definition of school turnaround almost ensures that any turnaround effort will fail. There are a variety of criteria in the definition of turnaround that are unsupported at any time in any situation. Using such criteria can end up having a devastating impact on everyone associated with turnaround, from state legislators to children. To begin with, there is no empirical support that all failing schools can be turned around. There is no empirical evidence that most failing schools can be turned around. There is no empirical evidence that many failing schools can be turned around (Loveless, 2010; May & Sanders, 2013; Peurach & Neumerski, 2015; Stuit, 2010). For example, only 26 of the original 2025 low-performing schools in the Stuit (2010) study “made it into the top half of their state’s proficiency ranking within five years” (p. 5). There is considerable evidence across industry and time that organizations do best when leaders help set challenging goals. But it is foolish to establish foolish targets (Table 4.1).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph F. Murphy
    • 1
  • Joshua F. Bleiberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Peabody CollegeVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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