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school improvement grants
December 3, 2018
Tennessee’s turnaround district wins big chunk of $8.25 million grant for school improvement
Ten Tennessee schools will each receive $275,000 per year over three years.
the school improvement industry
October 29, 2018
Private groups have long tried to help turn around struggling schools. But it’s not clear if they’re doing any good.
There's little evidence on whether that school improvement industry, paid for by taxpayers, is actually boosting student learning, according to a new study.
sig: the sequel
September 13, 2018
Did Obama’s federal school turnaround program really fail?
It’s a year-old debate that remains relevant, as SIG has become a touchstone for the idea that the federal government is unable to help long-struggling schools improve.
September 5, 2018
One state, three lists of troubled schools — another consequence of Tennessee’s testing mess
After months of talks, federal and state officials come to terms on how to address Tennessee's lowest-performing schools in light of TNReady problems.
August 17, 2017
New study deepens nation’s school turnaround mystery, finding little success in Rhode Island
Rhode Island tried to improve its struggling schools without dramatic changes. A new study on those efforts says they didn’t help student achievement.
May 9, 2017
Betsy DeVos called Obama’s school turnaround program a failure, but new research shows it worked — in a few places
After three years, San Francisco schools that got federal turnaround money had higher test scores and more parents wanted to send their kids there.
February 21, 2017
McQueen rips Tennessee’s school turnaround work as ineffectual, overdue
Calling outcomes "a little embarrassing," Education Commissioner Candice McQueen notes that the state has only moved 10 schools off its “priority” list since 2012.
September 12, 2016
These 21 struggling New York City schools are getting $2.5 million each to help them improve
The schools will get $2.5 million each in federal funds to help them improve. But while the gifts are coming with conditions, the strings are looser than in the past.
Politics & Policy
January 8, 2014
U.S. DOE says it will continue to invest millions in improving Memphis schools
Nine Memphis-area schools will continue to receive millions of special federal dollars to improve their schools for the next two academic years as…
December 18, 2013
Report: Poor oversight on Colorado turnaround effort
Fewer than half of all schools that received federal grant money in the first three years of the School Improvement programm outperformed the state average growth percentile, or how the state measures academic progress by students and their academic peers, a report from A+ Denver found.
July 26, 2013
With evaluation standoff past, city wins new round of grants
New York City is getting nearly $75 million in federal grants to help 16 struggling schools improve and support another six school buildings where schools are shuttering, the state announced today. The grants are the second round of New York State's disbursements from its share of the U.S. Department of Education's $3.5 billion grant program known as School Improvement Grants, or SIG. The grants are designed to improve outcomes in schools with large numbers of students in poverty. Two years ago, the city forfeited a large chunk of the first round of grants after failing to reach a deal with the teachers union on teacher evaluations, which was required to qualify for the majority of the funding. Officials said today that of $58 million awarded to the city, just $15 million was spent that year. The rest was returned back to the state. Those funds may be reallocated to future grant winners, a state spokesman said. Now that evaluations are in place for the 2013-2014 school year, teachers union leaders endorsed this year's grant applications. Union officials cited other reasons this year's applications were an improvement over the previous round, too. They said that this year, individual schools had a more prominent role in determining how the grant money will be spent. In previous years, the city Department of Education applied centrally. "It's more targeted to the needs of the students versus the needs of the administration," United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said of the new grants. Mulgrew said he was "very happy" with this year's version.
October 10, 2012
New York City could get $25M for turnaround this year after all
Three of the 24 schools that the city tried to close and reopen this summer could undergo "turnaround" after all. Under the aggressive form of the federally prescribed school overhaul process that the department tried to carry out, all teachers at the struggling schools were required to reapply for their jobs. The city set no quota for rehiring, but the requirement that no more than 50 percent be rehired in order for the schools to qualify for federal funding was widely known. An arbitrator ruled in June that the city's version of turnaround ran afoul of its contract with the teachers union. But three of the schools — some of the smallest proposed for turnaround — turned over more than 50 percent of their teachers last year anyway, so they meet the federal requirements for funding. The schools are Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School, J.H.S. 22 in the Bronx, and M.S. 126 in Brooklyn. Now, the city has asked for turnaround funding for them and for 15 other schools that it is shutting down through its regular closure process. Under that process, used for years, one school phases out while others phase in in the same space.
August 21, 2012
After rueing SIG funding loss, city will give schools $18 million
A month ago, city officials said 24 struggling schools would have to miss out on costly school improvement programs because they were ineligible for federal "turnaround" grants. Now the city plans to pony up its own funds. In a release to reporters this afternoon that was short on details, officials said the department would allocate $18 million to the schools as "one-time transitional support" to make up for the loss of $30 million School Improvement Grants. City efforts to secure federal funding for these schools have been tense since the State Education Department yanked the funding from them and other schools late last December as a consequence for the city and union's unresolved teacher evaluation negotiations. To secure the funds, the city proposed to have 33 schools, later reduced to 24, undergo a stringent reform regimen called turnaround, which would have required the city to replace at least half the teachers at each school. To hit that quota, the city proposed closing the schools and re-opening them after replacing some teachers through a contractual process called 18-D. But an independent arbitrator ruled that those plans violated the teachers' contracts, and a court upheld the ruling in July. That ruling effectively made the city ineligible to receive the federal "turnaround" aid.
July 31, 2012
City dissolves fleet of "master" and "turnaround" teachers
The teachers union's victory in a legal fight over the city's "turnaround" plans kept thousands of teachers at 24 struggling schools from losing their positions. But it has also put another group of teachers at risk. They are the "master" and "turnaround" teachers, a cohort of experienced educators selected to put in extra hours helping their colleagues in exchange for extra pay. The positions were funded through federal School Improvement Grants, but without turnaround or another overhaul process in place at the schools, those funds will not flow to the city. Last week, just after the city's final bid to reinstate turnaround failed, the 71 master and turnaround teachers got a letter from the Department of Education telling them to look for other positions. The demise of the elite positions has given rise to yet another city-union dispute centered around the schools formerly slated for turnaround.
July 27, 2012
With "turnaround" dead in the water, city releases plan details
Even as city officials swore that they had not set any quota for rehiring at schools it was trying to shake up, they were assuring the state that the schools would replace at least 50 percent of teachers. The assurances were made in nearly 800 pages of documents submitted to the state in March as part of the city's application for federal School Improvement Grants. The city released the original application Thursday, four months after submitting it and two days after a State Supreme Court effectively torpedoed the city's bid for the funds. The documents include a letter addressed to State Education Commissioner John King from the deputy chancellor overseeing turnaround, an outline of the plans, and a 770-page tome on changes the city proposed for each of the 24 schools, along with the city's justification for planning to close each of them. The release did not reflect changes that state and city officials said were made throughout the spring. The city also released a shortlist of programs on Thursday that it says are now at risk after an arbitrator ruled that the city's plans for staffing the schools violated its contracts with the teachers and principals unions. Much of the application's content for each schools mirrors the proposals the city released when it began preparing the schools for closure. But a separate section outlines just how changes at each school would meet federal requirements for "turnaround," the overhaul process that the city was proposing.
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