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Washington Schools to get $24m to Improve Learning
Third group of School Improvement Grants awarded by U.S. Department of Education

OLYMPIA — February 14, 2014 — A group of schools will receive money to help improve student learning, State Superintendent Randy Dorn announced today.

Totaling $24 million, the money is part of the federal School Improvement Grant program. About $8 million per year for three years – beginning in the 2014-15 school year – will be awarded. Schools will receive between $50,000 and $2 million per grant.

“I’m pleased the federal government is continuing its commitment to help schools around the country and in Washington specifically,” Dorn said. “Schools that have received SIG money have shown measurable increases in how their students perform on state test scores. We expect that this group will do the same.”

Schools eligible to apply for the money must be identified as Priority Schools, which is defined as being among the lowest 5 percent of Title I schools in the state, based on state test results. Other factors that may be considered when selecting grant winners include the geographic distribution of priority schools, the number of schools served and the size of each school.

Schools selected for SIG money will be required to adopt one of four federal intervention models:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
    • Because Washington does not have authorization for charter schools, the “restart model” can only include 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: Implement each of the following strategies: (1) replace the principal and take steps to increase teacher and school leader effectiveness; (2) institute comprehensive instructional reforms; (3) increase learning time and create community-oriented schools; and (4) provide operational flexibility and sustained support.

Schools that are eligible but decline to apply for the grants are still required to engage in an improvement process focused on the turnaround model as articulated in recent state law.

This will be the third group of SIG schools. The first group (Cohort I) began in 2010 and was composed of 18 schools. Cohort II began in 2011 and was composed of 10 schools. Schools selected in Cohort III will be announced in May.

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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 provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.

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CONTACT:
Nathan Olson
OSPI Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015

The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015

 

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