School Improvement Grants (SIG)
Senate Bill 6696, which was passed in 2010, requires OSPI to annually identify the persistently lowest-achieving schools in the state. It also requires the superintendent to recommend to the State Board of Education which school districts should be designated as Required Action Districts.
A group of Priority schools in Washington State are currently eligible to receive a total of $24 million as part of the federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. Approximately $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.
Schools eligible to apply for the grant 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 the schools.
Schools selected to receive grant funds will be required to adopt one of four federal intervention models:
- 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: (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.
- Because Washington does not have authorization for charter schools, the “restart model” can only include an education management organization.
Schools selected to receive funds will be announced later this spring.
The law states that the superintendent must identify the lowest-achieving five percent of Title I or Title I-eligible schools using the criteria for receiving federal School Improvement Grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and Title I.
The OSPI Secondary Education & School Improvement office has identified 57 Washington schools as Tier I and Tier II schools, according to the specific criteria that have been adopted in rule WAC 392-501-720.
- Tier I – Achievement: Any Title I school in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that is among the lowest-achieving five percent of Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring in the State. This is based on the past three years of achievement data in the “all students” group in reading and mathematics combined.
- Tier I – Graduation: Any Title I school in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that is a high school with a weighted-average graduation rate that is below 60%, based on the past three years of data (2008, 2009, and 2010).
- Tier II – Achievement: Any secondary school that is eligible for, but does not receive, Title I, Part A funds that is among the lowest achieving five percent of secondary schools. This is based on the past three years of achievement data in the “all students” group in reading and mathematics combined.
- Tier II – Graduation: Any secondary school that is eligible for, but does not receive, Title I, Part A funds that is a high school with a weighted-average graduation rate that is below 60%, based on the past three years of data (2008, 2009, and 2010).
The methodology used to determine these schools and their Tier Assignments provides detailed information on the persistently lowest-achieving schools identification process.
The law also requires that the superintendent recommend to the State Board of Education school districts for designation as Required Action Districts in January of each year. The criteria for making this decision are in
WAC 392-501-730. After listing the criteria, these rules state that “The number of school districts that shall be recommended shall be based on the availability of federal funds and the amount of funding needed for each identified school.”
Based on the information OSPI received from the federal Department of Education, it does not appear that additional federal funds will be available to school districts that have been newly identified on the 2011-12 persistently lowest-achieving schools list. If this is the case, OSPI will not recommend to the State Board of Education that any districts be identified as Required Action Districts for the 2012-13 school year.
Tier III includes all other Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that are not among the persistently lowest-achieving schools in Tier I. In February 2010, OSPI submitted a waiver to ED to exclude schools from the pool of “persistently lowest-achieving schools” for Tier I and Tier II, any school in which the total number of students in the “all students” group in the grades assessed who were enrolled in the school for a full academic year is less than 30. As required in the waiver, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has added these removed schools to from Tiers I and II to Tier III.