U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced that Iowa will receive $2.9 million to turn around its persistently lowest achieving schools through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. The funds are part of $546 million available to states for the SIG program in fiscal year 2010. In fiscal year 2009, states received a total of $3.5 billion for the SIG program.
"When a school performs in the bottom five percent of the state and isn't showing signs of progress or has a graduation rate below 60 percent over a number of years, something dramatic needs to be done," said Duncan. "Turning around our lowest-achieving schools is difficult for everyone but it is critical that we show the courage to do the right thing by kids."
The $2.9 million made available to Iowa is being distributed by formula to the state and will then be competed out by the state to school districts. Iowa's application, which includes its list of persistently lowest-achieving schools, as defined by the state, can be found here:
School districts will apply to the state for the funds this spring. When a school district applies, it must indicate that it will implement one of four school intervention models in each of its persistently lowest-achieving schools for which it receives SIG funds, 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.