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Tennessee helps struggling schools

As one of the two winners in Race to the Top phase I, Tennessee received $500 million to implement its comprehensive school reform plans over the next four years. But it doesn't end there - in order to collect the full funding, Tennessee must now take steps to insure it will meet the benchmarks established as part of its Race to the Top plan.

One step was taken recently, when the state approved Pearson K-12 Solutions to provide Whole School Reform, Professional Development and Technical Assistance to improve its struggling schools.

“We are all set to bring our comprehensive research-based School Turnaround Education Partnership (STEP) model that helps schools make fundamental changes and sustain improvements for the long term," said Pearson K-12 Solutions President Scott Drossos.

Drossos said that for students, a positive school culture is linked to a strong sense of school membership, which in turn is linked to academic and behavioral outcomes, including reduced dropout rates. The Pearson School Turnaround Education Partnership (STEP) model strives to help schools create a culture that is family-friendly and safe, where all students and families are respected, and where students feel connected to their learning and their school.

The plan includes a combination of 10 core elements to help underperforming schools, focusing on systematic planning, collaboration, effective technology use and evaluation for continuous improvement.

A key component of Pearson’s turnaround strategy is a strong, multi-pronged focus on providing comprehensive training and resources to teachers. The Pearson teacher professional development plan comprises several components, including its Learning Teams model where groups of teachers work in collaborative environments to identify student problems and develop instructional solutions.