Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Implementation and Effectiveness of School Improvement Grants

Low-performing schools that received federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) used more practices promoted by the program than other schools, but there was no evidence that the grants had a significant impact on student outcomes, according to a new report released today (Jan. 18).

This is the last in a series of reports on the implementation and impact of SIG conducted by the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) in the Institute of Education Sciences.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, states received billions of SIG dollars to help turnaround their lowest-performing schools. Most of these grantee schools were required to implement one of four intervention models—transformation, turnaround, restart, or closure—that prescribed a set of practices designed to improve student outcomes. These practices fell into four main areas: adopting comprehensive instructional reform strategies; developing and increasing teacher and principal effectiveness; increasing learning time and creating community-oriented schools; and having operational flexibility and receiving support.

Using 2013 survey and administrative data from nearly 500 schools in 22 states, this evaluation focuses on whether schools receiving a grant to implement these models used the practices promoted by SIG and how that compares to other schools. The report also focuses on whether SIG had an impact on student outcomes. Key findings include:

•    SIG schools implementing one of the four models reported using more practices than other schools: SIG schools reported using an average of 23 out of 35 practices, whereas other schools reported using 20 practices;

•    Across all schools, use of SIG-promoted practices was highest in comprehensive instructional reform strategies and lowest in operational flexibility and support: Schools reported using 89 percent of the 8 SIG-promoted practices examined in the comprehensive instructional reform strategies area, but only 43 percent of the 2 practices in operational flexibility and support;

•    Implementing any of the four SIG models had no significant impacts on math or reading test scores, high school graduation, or college enrollment; and

•    In elementary grades, student achievement gains did not differ across the four SIG models. In secondary grades, the turnaround model was associated with larger achievement gains than the transformation model.

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