Education experts and district leaders meet to share research, practices and solutions for achieving sustainable high school turnaround

PRINCETON, New Jersey, November 10, 2014 – The Institute for Student Achievement (ISA) is convening education thought leaders and top-flight researchers to collaborate with district superintendents from across the nation during its inaugural Superintendents’ Conference. The two-day event titled, “The Challenge of Underperforming High Schools: News Ways of Thinking and Doing,” will examine the various contexts – international, national, race and culture, and innovation – associated with turning around underperforming high schools and sustaining success once achieved.    

“Managing high school turnaround is an extremely challenging and complex process, however a necessary one to ensure students are prepared for success in college and their future careers,” said Gerry House, Ed.D., president of ISA. “By bringing together leading experts, researchers and superintendents, we are able to continue to identify and share viable solutions for navigating this process and improving our nation’s underperforming high schools.”

During the conference, experts will provide research and discuss cutting-edge practices to help attendees achieve sustainable turnaround in their own districts. Attendees will also have the opportunity to engage in small, collaborative group dialogue during breakout sessions to discuss the issues faced in their own districts, including ways to look at innovation and change in the current environment and find new approaches.

In addition to an opening session by Walt McDonald, president and CEO of the Educational Testing Service (ETS), and Dr. House, and facilitated sessions led by T.J. Elliott, vice president and chief learning officer of ETS, the conference will feature presentations by:

  •  Andreas Schleicher and Tue Halgreen, OECD researchers best known for work on Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Using comparative data from countries that participate in PISA, they will discuss high performing schools from the international context and what accounts for that success. OECD’s most recent study, “Time for the US to Reskill?” focuses on the assessment of Americans’ basic skills in literacy, numeracy and problem-solving in a technology-driven economy and the impact on social and economic outcomes.
  • Jim Shelton, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education. Shelton will offer perspective from the national context, providing insight on initiatives being considered and implemented to prepare all students to be college and career ready. Mr. Shelton will highlight recent changes to the School Improvement Grants program that now permit whole school reform models as one of three new turnaround options.
  • Imani Perry, scholar of law, culture and race and professor at Princeton Center for African American studies. Dr. Perry will address student performance from the context of race and culture. With both a Ph.D. and J.D. from Harvard University, this brilliant young scholar takes an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning. Dr. Perry will share insights from her book, “More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States,” as well as her own rich, personal history.
  • ETS researchers Steve Robbins and Joanna Gorin and ISA’s Senior Math Specialist Jonathan Katz will share their cutting-edge work from the context of innovation. Mr. Robbins most recently co-authored a book with Wesley R. Habley and Jennifer Bloom titled, “Increasing Persistence: Research-based Strategies for College Student Success” (Wiley, 2012). Dr. Gorin oversees a research and development agenda around next-generation educational assessments, specifically exploring the use of games and simulations for formative and summative assessment. And Dr. Katz recently published “Developing Mathematical Thinking: A Guide to Rethinking the Mathematics Classroom” (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014).

ISA is pleased to host a prestigious group of superintendents from across the United States. Attendees include district leaders from New York, Trenton, Houston, Chicago, Nashville, Minneapolis, and more.

Attendees and staff will be live Tweeting during the conference being held on Thursday, November 13, 2014 and Friday, November 14, 2014 using the hashtag #ISASups14.

To learn more about ISA and its approach to school turnaround, visit //


About ISA

The Institute for Student Achievement (ISA) partners with schools and districts to transform public high schools so that students who are traditionally underserved and underperforming graduate prepared for success in college. Through this close partnership, ISA provides the organizational and professional development supports that schools, principals, and teachers need to succeed, giving students the opportunity to learn, grow, and achieve to their fullest potential. To learn more about ISA, visit //


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