Although state education officials have been focused recently on the Race to the Top fund, they are also looking at another pool of money scheduled to come their way in early 2010: $3.5 billion in Title 1 School Improvement Grants. These grants, funded by a FY2009 appropriation of $546 million and an additional $3 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), will be disbursed to states in proportion to their Title 1 eligibility. School districts will then apply to their respective states for subgrants.
Speaking about the grants in late August, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, “If we are to put an end to stubborn cycles of poverty and social failure, and put our country on track for long-term economic prosperity, we must address the needs of children who have long been ignored and marginalized in chronically low-achieving schools.”
Under the proposed rules, each district receiving funding would need to demonstrate its commitment to raising student achievement by employing one of four interventions in each of its qualifying low-performing schools.
? Turnaround. The principal and at least 50 percent of the staff would be replaced, and changes would be made to the governance structure and the instructional program.
? Restart. The school would close and reopen under the management of an educational or charter management organization.
? Closure. The school would close, and students would be assigned to other schools in the district.
? Transformation. The district would initiate a sweeping change in the school that would include replacing the principal, extending learning time for students and planning time for teachers, and providing sustained support.
In order to ensure that districts carefully match schools with appropriate intervention methods, any district with nine or more qualifying schools would not be permitted to use any one method in more than half of its schools.