- Tennessee’s state-run Achievement School District launched with bi-partisan support and strong interest from charter school operators in 2012, but students haven't seen strong academic gains over the past seven years, and some charter operators are beginning to pull out, Chalkbeat reports.
- The district became a model for other state efforts in Nevada and North Carolina, but those efforts have not gained much traction due to low interest from charter operators and weak political support. Nevada is shutting down its achievement school district after two years, and North Carolina only has one school in its Innovative School District three years after it was implemented.
- Some states and school districts are looking at different turnaround models, including some efforts that involve more collaboration at the local level that avoids the perception of aggression involved in state-run takeovers. Mississippi, after exploring the Tennessee model, decided to take over whole districts rather than individual schools, using a state agency to run them rather than charter operators.
State takeover efforts remain controversial. Though some have been successful in terms of raising academic achievement to some degree, the loss of local control raises concerns among school boards and some parents. In other cases, parents are requesting state takeovers because they're so frustrated with the status quo.
The takeover of the New Orleans school district is, for many, the best positive example of a takeover effort. However, these results have not been easily replicated elsewhere. Chalkbeat notes that one reason for its success was the willingness to shut down charter school operations that weren't performing well — a step some turnaround districts have been reluctant to take. The willingness to close low-performing schools remains even since control has been restored.
Some observers have noted other reasons for New Orlean's success, including the low starting point of the school district, the increase in per student spending, and the change in population after the Hurricane Katrina, which resulted in lower levels of poverty within the district. Support for the decision in the wake of Katrina had an impact, as well.
As the authors of a study touting the initiative's success noted, “We caution that these substantial effects are unlikely to arise in most other school districts because New Orleans had several advantages over other districts in making the reforms work. Nevertheless, the fact that New Orleans improved so much, in such a short period, on so many measures means that the city’s experiences are worthy of attention.”
The main benefit of state takeover efforts seems to be as an incentive to improvement on the local level, prompting district leaders to examine better ways to turnaround their own districts. Atlanta, for instance, is rethinking its turnaround approach in the wake of a state takeover threat. And, given the amount of research about the success — or lack thereof — of these initiatives, some states also rethinking their approaches to educational improvement all together.