'Seed, feed and weed': Advice on turning around underperforming schools

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

In addition to being something of a luminary in education policy circles, Chris Barbic is the head of something called the Achievement School District in Tennessee. In that capacity, his job is to move that state’s lowest performing schools into the top in terms of performance in five short years.

To do this, Barbic is borrowing strategies that have worked in other “recovery” or “portfolio” districts, where some or all schools are operated outside of the normal district structure. What this looks like varies from place to place, but there’s evidence that the approach can drive relatively quick transformation.

Elements of the strategy are expected to begin appearing in schools hereabouts in coming months. So it seemed like a good idea to catch up with Barbic during a recent visit to the Twin Cities. An edited version of that conversation follows.

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