How We Work

Turnaround for Children’s model is an integrated set of practices and supports designed to re-establish what traumatic stress linked to poverty has interrupted. It builds the critical brain functions associated with learning as well as social and emotional development.

Turnaround partners with public schools in a mutual-selection process. Each school agrees to hire and pay for a full-time social worker and guarantees access to all of its teachers for at least one hour per week; while Turnaround sets up a partnership between the school and a community-based mental health provider. Then Turnaround deploys a team consisting of a Social Work Consultant (veteran clinical social worker), Instructional Coach (master teacher), and Program Director (experienced school administrator) to work intensively with a small cluster of schools for 3-5 years.

This team:

  1. builds a high capacity student support system that gets all children, including those with intense needs, help either in school or in partnership with a community-based mental health provider;
  2. trains all teachers in proven classroom strategies that foster a safe, engaging learning environment and strong student-teacher relationships; and
  3. works with school leaders to drive school-wide improvement, aligned to Common Core State Standards and district guidelines, and creates a high performing culture that involves the entire school community.

This three-prong effort is rigorous and touches everyone in the school, mitigating many risks that stem from poverty and removing significant obstacles to effective teaching and learning. All three things – supporting students, training teachers and working with school leaders — must be done at the same time, with the right level of intensity, to reach a tipping point that transforms a failing school into a successful one. When the whole school becomes safe and supportive, predictable and fair, children are much more likely to push themselves to learn, to take risks while managing their frustrations well, and to tackle increasingly rigorous, complex academic material.

What success looks like:

Turnaround knows its partner schools are on track for success because it measures the academic performance of students, teachers and schools, as well as data on learning climate and culture, and compares the results to peer schools. In schools that have partnered with Turnaround for more than two years, math and reading scores have improved at double the rate of peer schools and so did scores measuring school safety and a supportive learning environment.

Turnaround has succeeded when a school once marked by chaos, teacher turnover, low morale, and low achievement is a calm, nurturing community where all the adults are prepared, motivated, and have high expectations, and all the children are healthy, resilient, and eager to learn and succeed.