|State takeovers have limited effect on struggling schools, study claims|
A new national study, written by Beth E. Schueler of the University of Virginia and Joshua Bleiburg of Brown University, casts doubt on the notion that states are better positioned to run schools than locally-elected officials, finding little evidence that districts see test scores rise as a result of being taken over. The new study focuses on the 35 school districts from across the country that were taken over by states between 2011 and 2016. These takeovers often happened in small cities and the vast majority of affected students were Black or Hispanic and from low-income families. Schueler and Leiburg used national test score data to compare districts that were taken over to seemingly similar districts in the same state that retained local control. In the first few years of the takeover, the schools generally saw dips in English test scores. By year four, there was no effect one way or the other. In math, there were no clear effects at all. Some places, including Camden, New Jersey and Lawrence, Massachusetts, did see improvements in the wake of takeover; others, such as East St. Louis, Illinois and Chester Upland, Pennsylvania, saw their academic records get worse, relative to other schools in the states. One reason results might have diverged so much is that there’s no single playbook for what happens after a state takes control from an elected school board. It’s also possible that state takeovers don’t typically improve student achievement simply because they often don’t lead to meaningful changes in per-student spending, class sizes, or the number of charter schools.