School Improvement Grants (SIG)
A total of $506 million was appropriated for federal School Improvement Grants (SIGs), Fiscal Year 2013. The purpose of these funds is to turn around the lowest five percent of persistently lowest achieving Title I schools and Title I-eligible secondary schools, so that these schools significantly raise student achievement and exit improvement status. More information may be found at: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/applicant.html.
Washington State received a total $24 million as part of the federal SIG program. A group of Priority schools was eligible to apply for approximately $8 million per year for three years, beginning in the 2014-15 school year. Thirteen Priority schools and their districts were awarded SIG funding through a competitive process. Schools receive between $50,000 and $2 million per grant.
Schools eligible to apply for the grant must have been identified as Priority schools; these schools are among the lowest five percent of schools in the state based on state assessment results. Other factors that could be considered when selecting grant winners included the geographic distribution of Priority schools, the number of schools served, and the size of the schools. Additionally, school districts must have (a) demonstrated greatest need; (b) provided evidence of strongest commitment to use SIG funds to substantially raise student achievement and, if applicable, graduation rates; and (c) exhibited capacity to implement and sustain reforms over time.
Based on federal guidelines, SIG funds are used in Washington State to:
- Provide financial resources to qualifying school districts to implement selected intervention model(s) in identified Priority schools with strict fidelity, per federal regulations.
- Provide technical assistance and training to use Academic Development Institute's evidence-based Indistar® online action-planning tool to post intervention plans, monitor progress, and provide evidence of implementation and impact of intervention models.
- Build school and LEA capacity to implement one of the four intervention models prescribed in federal guidelines; descriptions of the four intervention models follow.
- Develop effective structures and conditions in schools and their districts essential for continuous improvement of teaching and learning and to sustain reforms after the funding period ends.
This is the third cohort of schools (Cohort III) to be awarded federal SIG funding in Washington State. Eighteen schools from nine districts (Cohort I) received SIG funding for 2010 through 2013, and ten schools from ten districts (Cohort II) received SIG funding for 2011 through 2014. Similar to Cohort III, Cohort I and Cohort II schools and their districts used SIG funds in order to turn around school performance and improve student achievement.
Districts selected to receive SIG funds are required to adopt one of four federal intervention models in their identified school(s):
- Turnaround: Replace the principal, rehire no more than 50 percent of the staff and grant the new principal sufficient operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars/time and budgeting) to fully implement a comprehensive approach to substantially improve student outcomes.
- Restart: Convert the 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 the school and enroll the students who attended that school in other schools in the district that are higher achieving.
Transformation: Implement each of the following strategies: (a) replace the principal and take steps to increase teacher and school leader effectiveness; (b) institute comprehensive instructional reforms; (c) increase learning time and create community-oriented schools; and (d) provide operational flexibility and sustained support.