Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that Illinois will receive $22.2 million to turn around its persistently lowest achieving schools through the Department's School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. Illinois is one of 13 states that will receive SIG funding. Six of the states, including Illinois, will receive awards to run a new competition for previously unfunded schools, and six states will receive continuation funds for the third year of implementing a SIG model. Along with Illinois, the states receiving new awards are: Georgia—$17.2 million; Kansas—$4.0 million; Massachusetts—$7.2 million; Nevada—$3.8 million; and North Carolina—$14.3 million. The seven states receiving continuation awards are: Arkansas—$5.3 million; Delaware—$1.4 million; Florida—$26.8 million; Montana—$1.5 million; New Jersey—$10.4 million; Oregon—$5.4 million; and Washington—$7.8 million.
"When schools fail, our children and our neighborhoods suffer," Duncan said. "Turning around our lowest-performing schools is hard work but it's our responsibility. We owe it to our children, their families and the broader community. These School Improvement Grants are helping some of the lowest-achieving schools provide a better education for students who need it the most."
Grants are awarded to State Educational Agencies (SEAs) that then make competitive subgrants to local educational agencies (LEAs) that demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to use them to provide adequate resources, in order to substantially raise student achievement in their lowest-performing schools.
Under the Obama Administration, the SIG program has invested up to $2 million per school at more than 1,300 of the country's lowest-performing schools. Early findings show positive momentum and progress in many SIG schools. Findings also show that many schools receiving SIG grants are improving, and some of the greatest gains have been in small towns and rural communities.