Program Overview

The Virginia Department of Education needed a solution that would build continuous, sustained improvement for their struggling schools and ensure that all students maximize their academic potential. Beginning in 2010, Catapult Learning partnered with Virginia DOE to provide Alliance comprehensive turnaround solutions to over 15 priority and focus schools.


School Year: 2013–2016
Grades Served: PreK–12
Economically Disadvantaged: 69%
88% African America
Services: Professional Development

Schools Served
Students Served

Our Solution: Alliance School Transformation

Delivered by a highly trained team with extensive local experience, Alliance Professional Development Solutions delivered a collaborative change management process aligned to Virginia Standards of Learning. After reviewing the schools strengths and challenges, the Alliance team developed a customized roadmap for each school that aligned with Virginia’s Seven State Turnaround Principles.

Using these principles as the foundation for an embedded, consultative approach and differentiated professional development, the Alliance team provided teachers and leaders with the tools and support necessary to execute real change. A customized plan was created using the Alliance School Development Rubric, which measures each school’s achievement of 21 Attributes of Exemplary Schools – the activities and processes seen in a well-run school that result in success for all learners.

Virginia’s Seven State Turnaround Principles

  1. Providing Strong Leadership
  2. Ensuring Effective Teachers & Instruction
  3. Redesigning the School Day/Week/Year
  4. Strengthening the Instructional Program
  5. Using Data
  6. Establishing a Positive Environment
  7. Provide a Mechanism for Family and Community Engagement

The Results: Higher Passing Rates on VA State Tests

To ensure increased passing rates on Virginia’s Standards of Learning (SOL) tests, the Alliance team implemented school-level professional development and coaching focused on leadership and data assessment. The use of data to inform instructional decisions and catalyze and school-wide conversations set the stage for significant gains in student achievement. As a result, Alliance partner schools have experienced rapid and sustainable increases in SOL test passing rates across all content areas.

Binford Middle School saw marked improvement on end-of-year tests from 2014 to 2016, with passing rates increasing by 9 to 24 percentage points over three years across all content areas.

Binford Middle School SOL Pass Rate (%) by Year (Richmond School District)

At S.P. Morton Elementary School, the percent of passing students increased in each content area by as many as 34 percentage points in first year, with continued improvement the following year.

S.P. Morton Elementary School SOL Pass Rate (%) by Year (Franklin School District)

The Results: Increased Family & Community Engagement

In order to get parents and the community more involved in the learning process at J.P. King Middle School, the Alliance plan included activities such as parent support learning nights, community-based parental meetings, and student success celebrations. Other measures that increased participation included providing bus transportation to parents, encouraging an active parent/teacher organization, and distributing parent satisfaction surveys. As a result, parent involvement increased by 62% in just one year.

J.P. King Elementary SOL Pass Rate (%) by Year (Franklin School District)

The Results: Emerging from Priority Status

The Alliance team engaged J.P. King Middle School in an explicit school-wide focus on student learning. To achieve this focus, J.P. King took specific steps to redesign the school day, week, and year according to Virginia’s third State Turnaround Principle. These changes also supported the second principles, Ensuring Effective Teachers & Instruction, by creating more opportunities for teacher growth and more academic learning time for students. With a new schedule designed solely to support students’ learning opportunities and a revamped yearly schedule that afforded students more academic learning time, J.P. King Middle School was able meet Annual Measurable Objectives for two consecutive results and was therefore no longer classified as a priority school.

Using parent engagement strategies, J.P. King Middle School’s parent involvement increased by 62% in one year.