Supt. Dorn Releases List of Schools Eligible for Federal Improvement Grants
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Supt. Dorn Releases List of Schools Eligible for Federal Improvement Grants
Three-year commitment will help schools turn around

OLYMPIA — March 12, 2010 — Washington state today released its list of schools eligible for money under a federal grant program revamped by the Obama administration.

The 47 schools on the list are eligible to apply for School Improvement grants ranging from $50,000 to $2 million annually for three years. The Department of Education will give Washington about $17 million for the grants in 2010.

The grants are part of the federal Title I program, which provides money to districts and schools with high numbers or high percentages of low-income children.

“Poverty shouldn’t be a barrier to academic success,” said Randy Dorn, State Superintendent of Public Instruction. “This unprecedented infusion of funds renews the commitment to the students of our most struggling schools to be college and career-ready.”

The schools, known federally as the “persistently lowest-achieving schools,” were ranked using a variety of factors, such as reading and math scores from 2007-09; that school’s Adequate Yearly Progress, as defined by the federal No Child Left Behind Act; and graduation rates for secondary schools. The schools were selected through methodology aligned to federal guidelines.

“We closely examined each school on the list and found that the diverse populations of these schools present special challenges,” Dorn said. “It is essential that the identified schools work to ensure adequate support to meet those challenges.

“The work we’ve done compiling this list is very helpful. Not only will it identify schools in need, and hopefully get them grant money. It also calls out the need for a statewide strategy for dealing with the challenges. Our achievement gap committee has begun the work of developing such a strategy.”

Schools wishing to participate in the grant program must choose one of four intervention models:

  1. Turnaround model. 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 implement fully a comprehensive approach to substantially improve student outcomes.
  2. Restart model. 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. Washington does not currently authorize charter school operators or charter management organizations. The restart model can only be used through an education management organization.
  3. School closure. Close the school and enroll the students who attended that school in other schools in the district that are higher achieving.
  4. Transformation model. Replace the principal and take steps to increase teacher and school leader effectiveness; institute comprehensive instructional reforms; increase learning time and create community-oriented schools; and provide operational flexibility and sustained support.

“Schools were identified using both academic performance of all students and improvement trends over the past three years,” said Janell Newman, assistant superintendent of school and district improvement accountability at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“Each of the four federal models requires significant and immediate shifts to ensure high staff and student expectations for rapid turnaround.”

Applications for the grants were due to OSPI on March 5. Of the 47 schools, 41 have applied for grant money.

“The number of schools applying shows the courage and the commitment to making serious changes in how they educate their students,” Newman said.

Districts and schools will be notified about their applications by March 26. By the start of the 2010-11 school year, schools will begin implementing their chosen intervention model.

“We’re not just trying to turn around a few schools for a few years,” Dorn said. “We’re trying to start a new culture that will last. It will make success for every student possible. The kids of Washington deserve no less than that.”

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