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Supt. Dorn Releases List of Schools Eligible for Federal School Improvement Grants

OLYMPIA — January 13, 2011 — Washington State today released its annual list of schools eligible for money under a federal school improvement grant program, which is part of President Obama’s agenda on education reform.

The 50 schools on the list are eligible to apply for School Improvement grants ranging from $50,000 to $2 million annually for three years, depending on federal funding availability. The Department of Education will give Washington about $7.3 million for the grants in 2011.

The schools, known federally as the “persistently lowest-achieving schools,” were ranked using a variety of factors, such as reading and math scores from 2008-10; 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 identified through methodology aligned to federal guidelines.

“I want to stress that this is a great opportunity,” said Randy Dorn, state superintendent of public instruction. “Some of the schools that have been struggling will be given a great chance to improve on their achievement.”

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 Tonya Middling, Director of Project Management of District and School Improvement and Accountability at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“The four federal models require significant changes to ensure high staff and student expectations for rapid improvement.”

Four districts with schools on the persistently lowest-achieving list were designated for Required Action today by the State Board of Education, as prescribed by Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 6696, passed in 2010. The Required Action designation guarantees funding for those schools grant. The districts include Morton, Onalaska, Renton and Soap Lake. Applications for the grants are due to OSPI by March 4, 2011.

Dr. Kristina Mayer, State Board of Education member and lead on the Board’s accountability work, is hopeful that the combination of federal funds, comprehensive school improvement plans, and increased accountability will make a dramatic difference for students.

“Requiring schools to create improvement plans to address persistently low student achievement, ensuring those plans are adequately funded and holding those schools accountable are essential for students at our lowest-achieving schools who have been for too long under served,” Dr. Mayer said.

Districts and schools will be notified about their applications by the end of March 2011. By the start of the 2011-12 school year, schools will begin implementing their chosen intervention model.

OSPI is in its first year of implementing school improvement grants for Cohort I recipients: 18 schools representing 9 districts. Cohort II plans are underway and scheduled to be finalized by the end of March 2011.


About OSPI

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine Educational Service Districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual preference/orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.

Nathan Olson
OSPI Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015

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