Replacing a school's staff has yielded mixed results in the past. At West Baltimore Middle, where staff members were asked to reapply for their jobs in 2001, test scores have continued to lag. The school's new plan is to replace some staff who have been identified as contributing to low performance.
State officials said a change in staff has helped three city schools run by for-profit Edison Schools Inc. Two of the schools exited a state watch list of troubled schools this month, and a third improved enough to become eligible to exit the list next year, said Deputy State Superintendent Ron Peiffer.
For the 40 other Baltimore schools undergoing restructuring, however, replacing staff won't be an issue. Rather, the challenge will be to make the most of turnaround specialists who will be there to analyze student performance data, coach teachers in classroom techniques and organize teacher training.
At Holabird Elementary, a Southeast Baltimore school that met state standards in every category two years ago but did not meet math goals this spring, principal Vera Stewart said she believes a turnaround specialist will be a great asset.
But Stewart said Holabird has problems that no specialist or school improvement plan will likely be able to fix, including a persistent problem with teacher retention caused in part by the school's remote location in an impoverished area.