Washington, DC - The U.S. Department of Education announced that 16 states will receive more than $113 million in grants to continue efforts to turn around our nation's persistently lowest-achieving schools through awards from the Department's School Improvement Grants (SIG) program.
"When we launched this program at the beginning of the Obama Administration, we wanted to give states and school districts an opportunity to put unprecedented resources toward reforms that would increase graduation rates, reduce dropout rates and improve teacher quality for all students, particularly for those who most need good teaching to catch up," said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. "Together, we've made important gains, but we know there is still a lot of work to be done in transforming our lowest-performing schools so that all students have the chance to be successful and thrive in diverse school environments. That's why we are making sure that, in addition to these funds, the Department continues to look for ways to support socioeconomic diversity in schools, whether it's through SIG funding or other grant competitions."
The Department awards grants to states, which then award competitive subgrants to school districts that demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to provide adequate resources to substantially raise student achievement in their lowest-performing schools. States are also given flexibility to develop their own state-determined intervention model that focuses on whole-school reform and is designed to improve student achievement. Today, the Department approved state-determined models in two states - Georgia and Maryland.
Arizona, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Nebraska will receive awards to run a new grant competition and make new awards to schools. Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, and Utah will receive continuation funds for implementing a SIG model; Connecticut, Iowa, Oregon, and South Dakota will make both new and continuation awards. Awards to remaining states will be made on a rolling basis over the coming months.
Since 2009, the SIG program has provided more than $7 billion in grants to support to more than 1,800 of the country's lowest performing schools that have demonstrated the greatest need and the strongest commitment to implementing rigorous reforms to raise student achievement. Turning around chronically low-performing schools, which have been failing students for decades and possibly generations, is some of the hardest and most important work in education, with direct impact on the life outcomes of young people.
Data show that SIG schools are improving faster than other schools, including gains in mathematics and reading proficiency and improved graduation rates.