Peeking Into the Black Box of School Turnaround: A Formal Test of Mediators and Suppressors

Gary T. Henry, Lam D. Pham, Adam Kho, Ron Zimmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


A growing body of research evaluates the effects of turnaround on chronically low-performing schools. We extend this literature by formally testing factors that may either mediate or suppress the effects of two turnaround initiatives in Tennessee: the Achievement School District (ASD) and local Innovation Zones (iZones). Using difference-in-differences models within a mediational framework, we find that hiring effective teachers and principals partially explains positive iZone effects. In the ASD, high levels of teacher turnover suppress potential positive effects. Also, in iZone schools, increased levels of student mobility and chronic absenteeism suppress potentially larger positive effects. Policies that increase capacity within turnaround schools, such as financial incentives for effective staff, appear to be important ingredients for realizing positive effects from turnaround reforms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-256
Number of pages25
JournalEducational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 AERA.


  • chronic absenteeism
  • descriptive analysis
  • educational policy
  • educational reform
  • mediation
  • policy analysis
  • program evaluation
  • quasi-experimental analysis
  • regression analyses
  • school turnaround
  • school/teacher effectiveness
  • student mobility
  • teacher/principal turnover

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Peeking Into the Black Box of School Turnaround: A Formal Test of Mediators and Suppressors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this