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Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the final requirements for $3.5 billion in Title I School Improvement grants to turn around the nation’s lowest performing schools. The applications are now available at http://www.ed.gov/programs/sif/applicant.html and are due into the Department of Education by Feb. 8, 2010.
“As a country, we all need to get into the turnaround business,” said Duncan. “Today we are providing $3.5 billion and four models that have proven results so that school districts, unions, charter operators, universities and the business community can come together to turn around our nation’s lowest performing schools. Adults need to have the courage to make these tough decisions and do right by our kids.”
These funds are made available to states by formula and competed for by school districts. As they compete for the funds, school districts (LEAs) must identify the schools they want to transform, and then determine which of the four following models is most appropriate. If a school has begun implementation of one of these four models or components of one of these models within the last two years, it may apply to use SIG funds to continue to implement the full model.
- Turnaround model: Replace the principal and rehire no more than 50 percent of the staff and grant the principal sufficient operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars/time, and budgeting) to implement fully a comprehensive approach to substantially improve student outcomes.
- Restart model: Convert a school or close and reopen it under a charter school operator, a charter management organization, or an education management organization that has been selected through a rigorous review process.
- School closure: Close a school and enroll the students who attended that school in other schools in the LEA that are higher achieving.
- Transformation model: Implement each of the following strategies: (1) replace the principal and take steps to increase teacher and school leader effectiveness; (2) institute comprehensive instructional reforms; (3) increase learning time and create community-oriented schools; and (4) provide operational flexibility and sustained support.
In selecting the districts to which funds will be awarded the state must use specific criteria outlined by the Department. In their applications, states must identify and prioritize these funds to its persistently lowest-achieving schools. These schools are defined as:
- Tier I: Any Title I school in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that-
- Is among the lowest-achieving five percent of Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring in the state;
- Is a high school that has had a graduation rate as defined in 34 C.F.R. § 200.19(b) that is less than 60 percent over a number of years;
- Tier II: Any secondary school that is eligible for, but does not receive, Title I funds that-
- Is among the lowest-achieving five percent of secondary schools in the State that are eligible for, but do not receive, Title I funds; or
- Is a high school that has had a graduation rate as defined in 34 C.F.R. § 200.19(b) that is less than 60 percent over a number of years.
- Tier III: Any state Title I school in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring; SEAs will set exact criteria, which could include schools with low absolute performance but high growth rates over a number years, or the bottom 6–10 percent of Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring.
Title I School Improvement Grants are funded by $546.6 million in the fiscal year 2009 appropriation and an additional $3 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to support the transformational changes that are needed to turn around the nation’s lowest-achieving schools. The Department is also making available the 5 percent administrative funds to SEAs to assist with planning and program activities related to SIG implementation.
The full list of requirements and final application can be found at http://www.ed.gov/programs/sif/applicant.html