Recent evaluations of reforms to improve low-performing schools have almost exclusively focused on shorter term effects. In this study, we extend the literature by examining the sustainability and maturation of two turnaround models in Tennessee: the state-led Achievement School District (ASD) and district-led local Innovation Zones (iZones). Using difference-in-differences models, we find overall positive effects on student achievement in iZone schools and null effects in ASD schools. Additional findings suggest a linkage between staff turnover and the effectiveness of reforms. ASD schools experienced high staff turnover in every cohort, and iZone schools faced high turnover in its latest cohort, the only one with negative effects. We discuss how differences in the ASD and iZone interventions may help explain variation in the schools’ ability to recruit and retain effective teachers and principals.

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Published in AERA Open, v. 6, issue: 2.

© The Author(s) 2020

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