The U.S. Department of Education recently announced that Iowa will receive $18,710,222 through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. The purpose of this program is to help turn around schools identified as persistently lowest achieving. Applications were made available in April for Iowa school districts seeking SIG funding through the Iowa Department of Education. The department anticipates awarding funding the end of May.
In order for a school district to apply, it must have a state-identified “persistently lowest achieving” or a Tier III school, which is a school that has failed to meet annual yearly progress for two years and is not identified as a persistently lowest achieving school. However, Tier III schools can only receive funds once all of the state’s persistently lowest achieving schools have received funds.
When school districts apply, they must indicate that they will implement one of the following four models in their persistently lowest achieving schools:
- 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.
Once schools receive SIG funds, they will be able to begin to spend them immediately to turn around schools this fall.
Iowa’s SIG grant application, which includes its list of persistently lowest achieving schools, as defined by the state, can be found here: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/summary/index.html.