Ed Dept. pours $43 million into reform program with questionable results

Dec 31, 2013 by

arnie duncanThe U.S. Education Department is pouring $43 million more in federal funds into a program that is aimed at improving the lowest-performing schools but has had highly questionable results.

The department announced last week that seven states would receive more than $43.4 million through the School Improvement Grants program: Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Wisconsin (see each state award below).

The money is given to individual state educational agencies, which are then tasked with running a competition in which school districts can compete for some of the money by showing their need for the cash and their plans to improve under one of four approved models for change. (Among the four models are the “transformation” model, which requires a school to replace the principal, institute an evaluation system for teachers that includes student test scores and implement other reforms, as well as the model in which the school is closed and students are assigned to other schools). The three-year-old program, known as SIG, has under the Obama administration awarded grants in two cohorts to more than 1,500 of the country’s lowest-performing schools, the department said.

Education officials tout what they say are positive results from SIG. In a recent news release about the latest SIG awards, the department noted that “early findings show positive momentum and progress in many SIG schools.” This followed the Education Department’s release in November of its second annual report on SIG results, saying that some two-thirds of schools that got grants for 2010-11 saw math and reading test score gains while one third of the schools saw declines. Schools that got grants for the 2011-12 school year did by and large worse in terms of test score gains than the first group.

via Ed Dept. pours $43 million into reform program with questionable results.

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