Governor Tom Corbett today announced that nine public schools will share $21 million in federal School Improvement Grant funding.
“Pennsylvania is home to thousands of high-quality educators; however there are still too many schools that have a history of failing to provide students with a quality education,” Gov. Corbett said. “Through the federal School Improvement Grant program, schools have the opportunity to implement innovative educational initiatives to better meet the needs of their students and improve academic performance.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Education awarded the grants through a competitive process. Applications were reviewed and scored by a panel of peer reviewers who then made award recommendations.
For a school to be eligible for funding, it must be among the lowest-achieving schools in Pennsylvania that has not made substantial progress on state assessments, or has a graduation rate of less than 60 percent for at least two of the last three years.
While 47 schools were eligible to apply, only 20 submitted applications.
As part of the competitive application process, eligible schools must adopt and implement one of four reform models developed by the federal government: Transformation, Turnaround, Restart and School Closure.
If a school selects the Transformation Model, teachers and principals must be assessed using a rigorous, transparent and equitable evaluation system; such as Pennsylvania’s new teacher and principal evaluation program, or a more rigorous system. Staff must also participate in high-quality professional development and be involved in curriculum design and development.
The Turnaround Model involves the “turn around” of schools through the implementation of nine broad strategies, including changing the school leadership, replacing at least 50 percent of the staff, requiring high-quality professional development and the adoption of new governance.
The Restart Model enables a school to choose between re-opening a school as a charter school or have an education management organization take its operations.
The School Closure Model allows a school to transfer students out of the low-performing school and into higher-achieving schools within the district’s boundaries.
The 2009-10 school year was the first time federal School Improvement Grants were available. Last year, $25 million in grant funding was distributed to 34 schools across the state.