A nationwide survey of forty-two states and the District of Columbia examined how states are using the $3.5 billion in School Improvement Grants, part of the federal Title I program. Early State Implementation of Title I School Improvement Grants under the Recovery Act, conducted by the Center on education Policy and released in late February, found that changes in the guidelines implemented for these grants were intended to funnel more resources toward those high schools most in need. In 2009, the Obama administration required states applying for the grants to choose from one of four school improvement models. Funding for School Improvement Grants was boosted by the $100 billion for education under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009.
The study's findings indicated that states are actively seeking out improvement grants. Twenty states reported that at least three-quarters of the eligible schools in their states applied for the grants. Other findings proved that of the four federally approved school-turnaround models—transformation, turnaround, restart and school closure—the transformation model was preferred by 74 percent of respondents.
"School improvement grants are critical because they provide the extra funding that is needed to help struggling schools," said Jack Jennings, president and CEO of the Center on Education Policy. Jennings said that some felt the intervention models were too restrictive for some schools, which leaves room for improvement for the grant program.