School Improvement
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School Improvement Grants (SIG)

Federal Title I School Improvement Grants
Cohort II, 2010-2011 School Year

Purpose
To turn around the bottom 5% of persistently lowest-achieving Title I schools, Title I-eligible secondary schools, and high schools with graduation rates less than 60% over three years so that these schools make Adequate Yearly Progress and exit improvement status.

Approximately $7.3 million will be available for Washington State in the 2011-12 school year to support a second cohort of SIG schools.

Nearly $1.4 billion will be available nationwide for federal School Improvement Grants (SIGs) from Fiscal Year 2010 funds appropriated under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Tiered Schools
Based on federal guidelines, the state’s lowest-achieving Title I schools, Title I-eligible secondary schools, and high schools with graduation rates less than 60% over three years are segmented into three tiers: Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III. See Methodology (PDF) for the process used to place schools into tiers.

OSPI's Role
The state is tasked with identifying its persistently lowest-achieving schools and their districts and with providing these districts the opportunity to volunteer to apply for federal School Improvement Grants. SIGs provide substantial funding which will enable selected districts to:

  • Implement federally-defined intervention models in their Tier I and Tier II schools
  • Support school improvement in their Tier III schools
  • Design new and bold innovations to substantially raise achievement for all students, including their low-income students and English language learners

This is an opportunity for districts to build capacity for implementing creative models designed to meet the needs of diverse learners, apply evidence-based practices, and ensure students graduate with college and career-readiness skills and knowledge.

Intervention Models
Federally-defined intervention models which districts will be required to implement in Tier I and Tier II schools include:

  • Turnaround Model, which includes, among other actions, replacing the principal and rehiring no more than 50% of the school’s staff, adopting a new governance structure, and implementing an instructional program that is research-based and vertically aligned form one grade to the next as well as aligned with the state’s academic standards. A Turnaround Model may also implement other strategies such as any of the required and permissible activities under the Transformation Model or a new school model (e.g., themed, dual language academy.)
  • Restart Model, in which a district converts the school or closes it and reopens it under the management of an education management organization (EMO) that has been selected through a rigorous review process. Note that while charter school operators and charter management organizations (CMOs) constitute a restart under the federal guidelines, these are not currently authorized by the Washington State Legislature.
  • School Closure, in which the district closes the school and enrolls the students who attended the school in other higher-achieving schools in the district.
  • Transformation Model, which address four areas critical to transforming persistently lowest-achieving schools. These areas include: developing teacher and principal leader effectiveness, implementing comprehensive instructional reform strategies, extending learning time and creating community connections, and providing operating flexibility and sustained support.

District’s Role
Based on federal guidelines, districts which volunteer to apply for SIGs may use these funds to:

  • Implement selected intervention model(s) in identified Tier I and Tier II schools with fidelity.
  • Support activities and services in identified Tier III schools.
  • Create effective structures and conditions in schools and across their district which are essential to turning around student performance and sustaining reforms after the funding period ends.

Grant Awards
Awardees are granted SIG funds in amounts ranging from $50,000 to $2,000,000 annually. Grants may be renewed three years, pending availability of federal school improvement grant funding for Year 2 and Year 3 (i.e., 2012-13, and 2013-14). Awards must be used to implement one of the four federally-defined interventions in Tier I and Tier II schools and to implement school improvement activities and supportive services in Tier III schools. Districts may also use these funds to access technical assistance and supportive services through SI’s Washington Improvement and Implementation Network. Note: Not all districts which apply for SIGs will be served. Selection will be based on greatest need, strongest commitment and willingness to implement reforms, and availability of funds.

Priority
OSPI must give first priority to districts that apply to serve Tier I or Tier II schools. Priority is also given to districts that have had Tier I and/or Tier II schools in the persistently lowest-achieving list for two consecutive years. No funds may be awarded to any district for Tier III schools unless and until OSPI has awarded SIG funds to serve fully, throughout the period of availability of SIG funds, ALL Tier I and Tier II schools across the state that districts commit to serve and that OSPI determines the district has the capacity to serve. A district with one or more Tier I schools may not receive funds to serve only its Tier III schools.


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