Sustaining School District Improvement
Beth Schueler

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Virginia

Primary Discipline

Educational Policy
Given low-income students of color are disproportionately concentrated in our nation?s lowest-performing school districts, improving the performance of these systems is a potentially high-impact lever for mitigating race- and class-based educational inequality. A series of studies show improvement efforts can generate short-term test score gains, but less is known about the longer-term effects, the impact on non-test outcomes, the ability for states to replicate successes across districts, and the strategies for implementing policy in a politically viable manner. This mixed methods study examines district improvement efforts in Massachusetts, home to a rare case in which the state was able to generate substantial improvements to the historically low-performing Lawrence Public Schools and do so while generating community support rather than significant resistance. The project examines whether the state was able to sustain gains in Lawrence seven years after reform, generate gains on longer-term outcomes such as high school graduation and college going, and replicate the short-term gains as well as the positive political response in three additional districts?Holyoke, Springfield, Southbridge?targeted for state-led intervention based in part on the early Lawrence successes. The results will have implications for leaders seeking to implement effective, politically viable, and sustainable school improvement.
About Beth Schueler
Beth Schueler is an Assistant Professor of Education and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. She studies education policy, politics, and inequality with a focus on efforts to improve low-performing K-12 schools and districts. She uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to learn which policies are most effective at improving educational organizations and what makes these policies more or less politically viable. She also has a strand of research examining the role of educational organizations in developing students? civic competencies, critical thinking, and argumentation skills. Her work in these areas has been published in journals such as Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Education Finance and Policy, and Public Opinion Quarterly, and has been covered by media outlets such as the New York Times, Boston Globe, and Education Week. Prior to joining the faculty at UVA, she was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Schueler holds a doctorate in education policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, holds a master?s degree in politics and education from Columbia University?s Teachers College, has taught on the politics of education at Brown University, and previously worked on legislative affairs at the New York City Council.

Pin It on Pinterest