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Schools Targeted for Turnaround Can Apply in July

Feds Award $416 Million to California to Turn Around Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools

June 24, 2010

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell announced on Thursday afternoon that California was awarded nearly $416 million through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program from the U.S. Department of Education.

“I am very grateful to President Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan for making this critical funding available for California’s persistently lowest-achieving schools,” said O’Connell. “This grant will help fund efforts to turn around persistently struggling schools in order to prepare their students for success in college and careers.”

The federal School Improvement Grants program is authorized under Section 1003(g) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that is intended to provide all children equal access to education. SIG is designed to improve student achievement in schools identified for program improvement, corrective action, or restructuring.

In March 2010, as required by state law and SIG program regulations, the California Department of Education identified 188 schools considered to be the persistently lowest achieving.  These schools are required to make dramatic changes to improve teaching and learning and help prepare thousands of students for a brighter future.  The SIG program provides resources to fund the school turnaround activities.  The identified local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools applying for SIG funding must fully implement one of four school intervention models during the 2010–11 school year as required by state and federal law. The four models are:

  1. Turnaround Model: The LEA undertakes a series of major school improvement actions, including replacing the principal and rehiring no more than 50 percent of the school's staff; adopting a new governance structure; and implementing an instructional program that is research-based and vertically aligned from one grade to the next, as well as aligned with California's adopted content standards.
  2. Restart Model: The LEA converts a school or closes and reopens a school under a charter school operator; a charter management organization; or an education management organization that has been selected through a locally determined, rigorous review process, using state educational agency provided guidance. A restart model school must enroll, within the grades it serves, any former student who wishes to attend the school.
  3. School Closure Model: The LEA closes a school and enrolls the students who attended that school in other schools in the LEA that are higher achieving. These other schools should be within reasonable proximity to the closed school and may include charter schools or new schools for which achievement data are not yet available.
  4. Transformation Model: The LEA implements a series of required school improvement strategies, including replacing the principal who led the school prior to implementation of the transformation model, and increasing instructional time.

LEAs and school districts are responsible for ensuring that one of these four models is implemented at each school that they commit to serve in the SIG application. The $415,844,376 made available to California is being distributed by formula to the state and will then be competed out by the state to school districts. LEAs may apply for SIG funds at http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/sw/t1/sig09.asp. The California Department of Education will make recommendations to the State Board of Education for approval of the LEA applications.

To view the list of schools identified as persistently lowest achieving, and for more information about the identification process, please visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/pl/index.asp.

Sources:  U.S. Department of Education, California Department of Education.