U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced that the District of Columbia will receive $1.79 million to turn around its persistently lowest achieving schools through the Education Department's School Improvement Grants (SIG). The funds are part of $546 million available to states and D.C. under the program. In fiscal year 2009, states received a total of $3.5 billion in SIG support.
"When a school continues to perform in the bottom five percent and isn't showing signs of progress or has graduation rates below 60 percent over a number of years, something dramatic needs to be done," said Duncan. "Turning around our worst performing schools is difficult for everyone but it is critical that we show the courage to do the right thing by kids."
When a school system applies for SIG funding, it must indicate that it will implement one of four intervention models in each of its persistently lowest-achieving schools, based on school needs:
TURNAROUND MODEL: Replace the principal, screen existing school staff, and rehire no more than half the teachers; adopt a new governance structure; and improve the school through curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.
RESTART MODEL: Convert a school or close it and re-open it as a charter school or under an education management organization.
SCHOOL CLOSURE: Close the school and send the students to higher-achieving schools in the district.
TRANSFORMATION MODEL: Replace the principal and improve the school through comprehensive curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.