More than $23 million in School Improvement Grant funds headed to Nevada
August 26, 2009
Las Vegas, NV – Nevada Senator Harry Reid and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced $3.5 billion in nationwide Title I School Improvement Grants which will be awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These grants will provide states and school districts with unprecedented funding to turn around the nation’s lowest-achieving schools.
“The Title I program is a symbol of our shared belief that every child in America deserves a quality education,” Reid said. I thank Secretary Duncan for coming to Las Vegas to announce these grant funds and I look forward to working with him to implement the reform needed to help students in Nevada and across the country succeed.”
“If we are to put an end to stubborn cycles of poverty and social failure, and put our country on track for long-term economic prosperity, we must address the needs of children who have long been ignored and marginalized in chronically low-achieving schools,” said Duncan. “States and school districts have an opportunity to put unprecedented resources toward reforms that would increase graduation rates, reduce dropout rates, and improve teacher quality for all students, and particularly for children who most need good teaching in order to catch up.”
Below is a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Education on the Title I School Improvement Grants:
TITLE I SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT GRANTS
FY 2009 funding: $546 million
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: $3 billion
Grantees: States, which make subgrants to school districts
Type of Grant: Formula
Purpose: The Title I School Improvement Grants will provide states and districts the money they need to leverage change and turn around schools. Authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2002, the program did not receive funding until fiscal year 2007. The current $3.5 billion provides an unprecedented opportunity for states and districts to implement significant reforms to transform chronically low-performing schools.
Current program operations: Under the ESEA, states and districts use school improvement funds for a range of interventions, including restructuring Title I schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress for five years. So far, the vast majority of these chronically underperforming schools have adopted the least rigorous restructuring intervention option required by the ESEA.
Draft program requirements: Every state must identify the bottom five percent of its Title I schools in school improvement status and target the majority of the school improvement funds to implement robust and comprehensive reforms to dramatically transform school culture and improve student academic outcomes. The Secretary is offering states flexibility to concentrate funding over multiple years to support the kind of dramatic, far-reaching changes that have not been possible under the existing program. Because Title I disproportionately supports elementary schools, the Secretary will grant waivers allowing states and districts to use school improvement funds to intervene in low-performing secondary schools that are eligible for, but don’t receive, Title I money.
Under rules the Department of Education is releasing for comments, districts will choose from four models of turning around their schools. Those models are:
- Turnarounds: Replace the principal and at least 50 percent of the staff and also adopt new or revised instructional strategies. The new leadership needs to consider extending the school day and year, offering social services, and recruiting, placing, and developing highly effective teachers.
- Re-starts: Close the school and re-open it under the management of a charter organization or an education management organization. The school must admit, within the grades it serves, all former students who wish to attend.
- Closures: Close the school and transfer its students to higher-performing schools in the district.
- Transformations: Implement a comprehensive transformation strategy that, at a minimum, replaces the school leadership and develops and rewards teacher and leader effectiveness; adopts comprehensive instructional programs; extends time for students and staff and offers community-oriented services; and provides operating flexibility and intensive support.
Districts should choose the strategy that works best for each school. To ensure districts are choosing a variety of strategies, any district with nine or more schools in school improvement will not be allowed to use any single strategy in more than half of its schools.
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