Wednesday, October 24, 2012
School Improvement Grants
This report is an examination of the implementation of School Improvement Grants (SIG) authorized under Title I section 1003(g) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and supplemented by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
“School Improvement Grants: Analyses of State Applications and Eligible and Awarded Schools” uses publicly-available data from State Education Agency (SEA) Web sites, SEA SIG applications, and the National Center for Education Statistics’ Common Core of Data to examine the following: (1) the SIG related policies and practices that states intend to implement for the Cohort 2 SIG cycle, (2) the characteristics of SIG eligible and SIG awarded schools from the Cohort 2 SIG cycle, and (3) how the policies, intended practices, and characteristics compare between the Cohort 1 and Cohort 2 SIG cycles.
This report provides context on the second round of SIG, with comparisons to the first round of SIG.
As of March 30, 2012, 45 states and the District of Columbia had received ED approval for their Cohort II SIG applications. These applications described how states planned to implement the second round of the SIG program (e.g., for the fiscal year 2010 SIG competition) and were required to obtain their formula-based share of federal SIG funds. These applications showed that 39 states and the District of Columbia developed new lists of schools that were eligible for SIG in Cohort II. While 14 of these states voluntarily developed new lists, another 25 states and the District of Columbia were required to do so either because there were fewer than 5 unfunded Tier I and II schools remaining on their Cohort I list or because they changed their definition of persistently lowest-achieving schools.
Another key finding from the review of Cohort II state SIG applications is that states and the District of Columbia planned to refine the SIG practices reported in their Cohort I applications. For example, 25 states modified their Cohort I criteria for determining whether a district had the capacity to support SIG implementation. The Cohort II applications also show that nearly all of the states (42 states and the District of Columbia out of the 45 states and the District of Columbia with available applications) appeared to make some revisions to their Cohort I plans for supporting SIG implementation in Cohort II, encompassing the areas of state restructuring/enhancement, designated support/monitoring staff, quality control measures for external providers, professional development, improvement tools, and creating networks.
In the analysis of Cohort II SIG awards, many of the findings parallel those reported for Cohort I in Hurlburt et al. (2011). The transformation model was again the most widely adopted model, being implemented for 75 percent of SIG-awarded Tier I and Tier II schools in Cohort II. Compared to elementary and secondary public schools nationwide, SIG-awarded schools were again more likely to be high-poverty (68 percent of students in Cohort II SIG schools were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch compared to 47 percent of students nationwide), high-minority (80 percent of students in Cohort II SIG schools were nonwhite compared to 46 percent of students nationwide), urban schools (52 percent of Cohort II SIG schools were in large or midsized cities compared to 26 percent of schools nationwide).
Although Cohort II SIG schools are similar to their Cohort I counterparts in many regards, there are a few differences.
- First, Cohort II is smaller than Cohort I as most states made awards for fewer schools.
- Second, the difference in average award levels between Cohort I and Cohort II SIG schools varied by state. Of the 29 states and the District of Columbia with available data, 13 states provided larger average total awards for Tier I and Tier II schools in Cohort II than Cohort I, while 16 states and the District of Columbia allocated smaller average awards in Cohort II than Cohort I.
- Third, compared to Cohort I, Cohort II featured a higher percentage of elementary schools (38 percent of Cohort II SIG-awarded schools compared to 32 percent in Cohort I), a lower percentage of rural schools (19 percent of Cohort II SIG-awarded schools compared to 24 percent in Cohort I), a higher percentage of Hispanic students (33 percent of students in Cohort II SIG-awarded schools compared to 27 percent in Cohort I schools), and a lower percentage of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch (68 percent of students in Cohort II SIG-awarded schools compared to 73 percent in Cohort I schools).