Search EdWorkingPapers

Can States Sustain and Replicate School District Improvement? Evidence from Massachusetts

The improvement of low-performing school systems is one potential strategy for mitigating educational inequality. Some evidence suggests districtwide reform may be more effective than school-level change, but limited research examines district-level turnaround. There is also little scholarship examining the effects of turnaround reforms on outcomes beyond the first few years of implementation, on outcomes beyond test scores, or on the effectiveness of efforts to replicate district improvement successes beyond an initial reform context. We study these topics in Massachusetts, home to the Lawrence district representing a rare case of demonstrated improvements in the early years of state takeover and turnaround and where state leaders have since intervened in three other contexts as a result. We use statewide student-level administrative data (2006-07 to 2018-19) and event study methods to estimate medium-term reform impacts on test and non-test outcomes across four Massachusetts-based contexts: Lawrence, Holyoke, Springfield, and Southbridge. We find substantial district improvement was possible although sustaining the rate of gains was more complicated. Replicating gains in new contexts was also possible but not guaranteed. 

Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Schueler, Beth, Liz Nigro, and John Wang. (). Can States Sustain and Replicate School District Improvement? Evidence from Massachusetts. (EdWorkingPaper: 23-882). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University:

Machine-readable bibliographic record: RIS, BibTeX