The Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership and the people involved in its design and initial implementation take center stage in a new paper by Ashley Jochim of The Center on Reinventing Public Education.
The new installment in CRPE’s Linking State and Local School Improvement series is titled The “City of Firsts” Charts a New Path on Turnaround and provides an in-depth look at the efforts underway in Springfield, MA. Jochim looks at SEZP as a turnaround strategy and a governance model, and discusses the Third Way (referred to in the paper as the “middle way”), highlighting the promise and innovation of the Empowerment Zone approach. Jochim says, “the arrangement offers a new angle on what it means for districts to ‘steer not row.’”
The case study follows the Nov 2016 release of Measures of Last Resort: Assessing Strategies for State-Initiated Turnarounds, a paper on the various approaches that states are using to improve underperforming schools. One of the takeaways from this paper was that in order for states to get the best results in their turnaround efforts, multiple approaches should be tried in a coordinated, strategic way.
Springfield Public Schools is one such example of a district using a ‘portfolio’ of turnaround approaches. The Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership operates alongside other Springfield turnaround efforts and is narrowly tailored to a specific challenge facing the district. We continue to learn from the work taking place in Springfield and are excited to see what the future holds.