America cannot keep the promise a quality education to every child without ending the cycle of failure in our chronically low-performing schools.
From the early days of the Obama Administration, the President and Secretary Duncan explained that the country could not continue the status quo, with the idea that some schools are merely destined to fail.
“We could not continue to tinker,” Duncan explained earlier today at the Building a Grad Nation Summit in Washington. “[The President] and I believe that dramatic change is needed in low-performing schools.”
The President and Duncan worked with Congress in 2009 to make an unprecedented investment in turning around low-performing schools.
Through ED’s School Improvement Grants (SIG), the Administration dedicated more than $4 billion dollars, that has reached over 1,200 schools. The goal of SIG is to accelerate achievement in our nation’s lowest-performing five percent of schools. The federal grants from ED are just one element in addressing a challenge that requires input and support from school leaders, teachers, unions, and local partners in the community.
Secretary Duncan announced this morning that the preliminary SIG data shows that the program is producing impressive gains in learning.
In year one under the new SIG:
- Nearly one in four schools saw double digit increases in math proficiency.
- Roughly one in five schools had double-digit increases in reading proficiency.
- In nearly 60 percent of SIG schools, the percent of students who were proficient in math or reading went up in the first year.
Duncan noted that the positive results are from the first year of data, and that it will take several years of data to confirm that SIG is making a lasting improvement in academic achievement.
“At the heart of all these successes,” Duncan explained, “are teachers and school leaders who are excited about the prospect of change.” Before joining a panel at the Summit, Duncan closed by reminded those in attendance that, “Children only get one chance at an education,” and that there isn’t time to wait for reform to happen.