State Takeovers of School Districts: A Review of a Case District



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Background: School accountability as a reform strategy shows that states and cities are paving the way for school district takeovers across America. Purpose: The purpose of this mixed methods research study was to explore state and federal policies that drive school closures in Texas and to explore the effects of school closures using the case of one Texas school district. This research is based on the mindset that by holding school districts accountable for student performance, low performing districts should be closed and taken over by the state. When schools are closed or taken over, the assumption is that student performance will increase. Methods: Mixed methods research was used for this study. Policy research methods were used to identify federal and state school closure policies. Using quantitative research methods, archival Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS) and Texas Academic Performance Reports (TAPR) data were gathered to explore the effects of school closures on student academic performance. Qualitative methods were used to conduct interviews with a sample of administrators with knowledge of district takeovers. Results: The results showed that poor school governance, fiscal irresponsibility, and poor academic performance led to the target school district’s takeover by the state. The findings also suggested that while a school district may be taken over for not meeting performance standards or failing to meet accreditation status, student performance was only moderately affected by the takeover. Specifically, little change in student performance over time was noted for the target high school in this project. Conclusion: The academic performance of the targeted school district that closed and merged with another school district due to performance issues did not perform significantly higher when compared to pre and post merger data. While district closure may help resolve governance issues, it does not necessarily improve a school’s academic performance.



Education, School District Takeovers, School Closures