The Effects of School Turnaround in Tennessee’s Achievement School District and Innovation Zones

Ron Zimmer, Gary T. Henry, Adam Kho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


In recent years, the federal government has invested billions of dollars to reform chronically low-performing schools. To fulfill their federal Race to the Top grant agreement, Tennessee implemented three turnaround strategies that adhered to the federal restart and transformation models: (a) placed schools under the auspices of the Achievement School District (ASD), which directly managed them; (b) placed schools under the ASD, which arranged for management by a charter management organization; and (c) placed schools under the management of a district Innovation Zone (iZone) with additional resources and autonomy. We examine the effects of each strategy and find that iZone schools, which were separately managed by three districts, substantially improved student achievement. In schools under the auspices of the ASD, student achievement did not improve or worsen. This suggests that it is possible to improve schools without removing them from the governance of a school district.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)670-696
Number of pages27
JournalEducational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Funding for this research was provided by the state of Tennessee’s Race to the Top grant from the U.S. Department of Education and the Walton Family Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © 2017 AERA.


  • charter schools
  • education policy
  • school governance and management
  • school reform
  • school turnaround

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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