by Jen Donovan
Fourteen additional states have been chosen to receive funding from the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program to turn around their lowest performing schools. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced this plan as part of $535 million included in the fiscal year 2011 budget and made available to states under the program.
When a school system applies to a state for SIG funding, it must implement one of the following models as a reform method:
- Turnaround Model: Replace the principal, screen existing school staff, and rehire no more than half the teachers; adopt a new governance structure; and improve the school through curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.
- Restart Model: Convert a school or close it and re-open it as a charter school or under an education management organization.
- School Closure: Close the school and send the students to higher-achieving schools in the district.
- Transformation Model: Replace the principal and improve the school through comprehensive curriculum reform, professional development, extended learning time, and other strategies.
States to Receive Funding
On March 30, 2012, Duncan announced that Arkansas will receive $5.7 million, Colorado will receive $5.7 million, Delaware will receive $1.5 million, Illinois will receive $23.6 million, Indiana will receive $9.3 million, Massachusetts will receive $7.8 million, Nebraska will receive $2.4 million, North Dakota will receive $1.2 million, and Pennsylvania will receive $19.6 million.
On April 30, he stated that California will receive $63 million, New York will receive $41.3 million, Ohio will receive $21 million, Oklahoma will receive $5.6 million, and Wyoming will receive $1.1 million.
On May 11, Duncan shared that Louisiana will receive $10.1 million.
For more information on the allocations, please refer to the state allocation table and the SIG data map on the Department of Education SIG website.
Research on Impact of School Improvement Grants
The Center on Education Policy recently released a report entitled “Opportunities and Obstacles: Implementing Stimulus-Funded School Improvement Grants in Maryland, Michigan and Idaho” which examines the implementation of the SIG program by drawing on research conducted in three states, seven school districts, and 11 schools—including schools that were eligible for but did not receive a SIG award.
Although the schools involved in Opportunities and Obstacles will no longer receive SIG funding after the end of the school year, this study and others like it are scheduled to be tracked through the year 2013 to examine how well schools can maintain their reform efforts on their own despite the lack of funding. “Schools are optimistic and report that they’re learning about what works well,” says Diane Rentner, deputy director at the Center on Education Policy, “Unfortunately, oftentimes it does come down to having the resources.”
A recent study of 22 California schools by Thomas Dee, professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Virginia, provides evidence for the effectiveness of SIG funding in low-performing schools. Dee’s analysis shows that in the first year of the program, the transformation efforts closed 23% of the achievement gap in California’s lowest-performing schools. Although this data is still preliminary, this is the first study of its kind to yield such results. According to Duncan, “Educators and schools leaders cannot give up on making far-reaching improvements in student learning in our lowest-performing schools. Children only get one shot at a good education. And Dee's new study reminds us that poverty is not destiny.”
Jen Donovan is the strategic communications intern at the International Reading Association.