The Iowa Department of Education has selected three schools to receive more than $2.6 million School Improvement Grants (SIG) from the U.S. Department of Education. The fund supports efforts to turn-around low-achieving schools in order to provide more students the opportunity for academic success.
"When schools are facing challenges in the student achievement it’s critical that something different needs to be done," said Jason Glass, director of the Iowa Department of Education. "The schools receiving these funds have developed a clear plan to make changes that will help their students, and this grant will support their efforts."
Limited funding this year means that only three of the newly identified Tier I schools in Iowa were able to receive a grant. In order for a school to be a Tier I Persistently Lowest-Achieving School (PLAS) means that it meets the following criteria:
- Receives Title I funding and is a School in Need of Assistance ( SINA ), meaning it has failed to make annual yearly progress at least two consecutive years with 30 or more full academic year students tested in the 2009-10 school year;
- Has a graduation rate less than 60 percent over the last three years OR falls in the lowest 10 percent of Title I SINA schools for all students proficient and average less than 67 percent proficient for each of the last three years in reading and math combined, from 2007-08 to 2009-10;
- Ranks in the bottom 5 percent of Title I SINA schools based on combined all students proficient rank in a) the three year average of percent proficient in reading and math combined, and b) the rank in percent change of percent proficient from 2007-08 to 2009-10.
In Iowa, a total 13 Tier I PLAS schools have been identified across the state. Six of those schools were awarded SIG funds in 2010. This year, of the seven additional Tier I PLAS schools, six applied for SIG grants and three were awarded funds.
The three schools – two in Des Moines and one in Waterloo – are:
|District||School||Model||1st Yr Budget|
|Des Moines||Harding Middle School||Turnaround||$784,641|
|Des Moines||Findley Elementary||Transformation||$977,584|
In order to receive funds, which are awarded on a competitive basis, schools submit a grant application to the Iowa Department of Education indicating which intervention model will be used. School may choose from one of four models developed by the U.S. Department of Education:
- 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.
Findley Elementary School in Des Moines and Irving Elementary School in Waterloo are using the Transformation Model; Harding Middle School in Des Moines is using the Turnaround Model.
Iowa was awarded a total of $18.7 million over three years by the U.S. Department of Education to provide SIG funds to support changes at the lowest-achieving schools in the state.