Thursday, April 14, 2016
School Improvement Grant implementation in low-performing schools
Persistently low-performing schools that receive federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) report implementing many improvement strategies, and most schools believe these strategies have led to positive changes over the course of SIG. However, there is concern about how these schools will sustain the improvements they may have made, according to a new study on the implementation of SIG.
The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) in the Institute of Education Sciences released Case Studies of Schools Receiving School Improvement Grants: Final Report on April 14, 2016. This report is the twelfth in a series of reports on the implementation and impact of SIG. The Study of School Turnaround examines the improvement process in a diverse sample of schools receiving federal funds through the SIG program from 2010-11 to 2012-13. This report presents findings from all three years of SIG implementation using data from site visits and a teacher survey. Key findings include:
• Most case study schools (22 of 25) replaced their principal at least once in the year before SIG or the first two years of SIG: Two of the four SIG intervention models required the principal to be replaced. About half of the new principals were described by school staff as an improvement over their predecessor;
• Twelve of the 25 case study schools replaced at least half of their teachers by the second year of SIG: Respondents in more than half of the 12 schools characterized the change as positive. All but one of the 25 schools created new non-teaching positions in the first two years of SIG, with the most frequent positions being instructional, technology, or data coaches and additional school administrators;
• In 15 of the 25 case study schools, most of the teacher professional development was job-embedded: According to teacher survey responses, professional development more often focused on math, literacy, or data use than classroom management or improving instruction for English learners and special education students. In most schools, teachers reported changing their practice after participating in professional learning on math, literacy, or data use; and
• Sustaining improvements may be challenging: In more than half of the 12 schools the study followed for all three years of SIG, teachers felt their school had changed in primarily positive ways. However, just two of these schools show strong prospects for sustaining improvement, while six show mixed prospects, and four show weak prospects. The schools that had higher organizational capacity by the third year of SIG had higher sustainability prospects.