Four schools will share $5.8 million in School Improvement Grant funds over the next three years as they continue work to dramatically improve student achievement.
Secretary of Education Lillian M. Lowery has approved $3.2 million in School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding for the Christina School District, $1.5 million for New Castle County Vo-Tech School District and $1.1 million for Positive Outcomes Charter School. All four also are participating in the state's Partnership Zone.
"These schools have committed to ambitious reforms that required innovation and, at times, courage," Lowery said. "As these plans become reality in our classrooms, we will see the return on this investment as children are learning and achieving at new levels."
The grants are available only to the state's districts and charter schools with the lowest-achieving schools, which must propose significant changes to improve test scores and graduation rates.
SIG is funded through the U.S. Office of Student Achievement and School Accountability. State education departments must allocate funds to local educational agencies that serve the lowest-achieving schools; demonstrate the greatest need for such funds; and demonstrate the strongest commitment to ensuring that such funds are used to enable the lowest-achieving schools to meet the progress goals in school improvement plans.
The program requires the implementation of one of four interventions -- the same models used in the federal Race to the Top program -- in "persistently low-achieving" Title I schools and Title I-eligible secondary schools. Title I schools are those with large concentrations of students from low-income families that are given additional funds to meet students' educational needs.
SIG funds are distributed over three years. Districts must apply for at least $50,000 but no more than $2 million per year for each eligible school the grant would serve. Winning programs must build capacity and support.
In the Christina School District, $3,213,098 will go toward Glasgow High School and Stubbs Elementary School. Both schools' reform plans use the transformation model and identify key changes to be made in: instructional model; leadership structure; quantity/quality of instructional time; selection, retention and evaluation of teaching staff; governance and operations; and community involvement.
New Castle County Vo-Tech School District will receive $1,503,557 to support Howard High School of Technology's transformation intervention plan. The plan includes a restructuring of ninth and 10th grade schedules to allow for small learning communities, team teaching and targeted additional instructional time.
And Positive Outcomes Charter School will receive $1,058,066 for its transformation plan, which includes a new curriculum, staff development, common assessments, student internship program and a parent investment project.
Supported with federal Race to the Top grant dollars, the Delaware Department of Education launched its Partnership Zone (PZ) in 2010 to dramatically improve the lowest-achieving schools in the state. Schools are selected by a two-step process that included both a quantitative analysis to determine the persistently lowest achieving schools on the state's reading and math tests and a qualitative analysis by Former Secretary Lowery that considered factors generated with input from various stakeholder groups.
Lowery approved the first four Partnership Zone schools' reform plans in January 2011, which include adopting longer school days and school years, increasing instructional time, requiring leadership and staffing changes and gaining flexibility in staffing decisions, use of lead partners, and other critical changes. She will name up to six more schools to the Partnership Zone in late August.
The state still has about $2.6 million in SIG funding that isn't being designated this year. That money will roll over for next year's allocation.More information about SIG, including last year's awards, is available on the department's website: http://www.doe.k12.de.us/infosuites/staff/fedstprog/TitleIPartA/1003g.shtml
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, Delaware 19901
Phone: (302) 735-4035
Fax: (302) 739-4654
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