Over the last few years, state accountability systems across the country have directed an increasingly bright light at the problem of chronically underperforming schools. The problem is hardly new, but the sheer number of failing schools facing takeover and restructuring is unprecedented. This crisis is rapidly becoming the leading concern of the accountability movement. Improving Struggling Schools draws on a blend of case studies and the emerging body of research on failing schools to identify patterns in the challenges they face. Arguing that school improvement is a developmental process, Stephens points out that "struggling schools look very different and need very different kinds of support as they move from stage to stage." He outlines a new approach that takes into account the patterns of growth and change in troubled schools, the foundational dilemmas schools face as they navigate this trajectory, and the overarching need to overcome the isolation and confusion that so often thwart schools' efforts to move forward.
D. Brent Stephens is currently the principal of Anthony Ochoa Middle School in Hayward, California. He has also served as a K 8 principal in Somerville, Massachusetts; as a central office administrator in Lowell, Massachusetts; and as a Spanish bilingual teacher in Boston and Oakland, California. He holds a doctorate from the Urban Superintendents Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and has earned certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards."