Guidance on School Improvement Grants Under Section 1003(g) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965




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Guidance

on

School Improvement Grants

Under Section 1003(g) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965


U.S. Department of Education

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

December 18, 2009



TABLE OF CONTENTS

PURPOSE OF THIS GUIDANCE viii

A. DEFINITIONS 1



A-1. What is the definition of “persistently lowest-achieving schools”? 1

A-2. Does a Title I high school need to meet both the requirements in paragraphs (a)(i) and (a)(ii) of the definition of “persistently lowest-achieving schools” set forth in A-1 to be identified? 1

A-3. What factors must an SEA consider to identify the persistently lowest-achieving schools in the State? 2

A-4. For purposes of identifying the persistently lowest-achieving schools in the State, what assessments does an SEA use to determine academic achievement and lack of progress? 2

A-5. For purposes of identifying the persistently lowest-achieving schools in a State, what is the “all students” group? 2

A-6. For purposes of identifying the persistently lowest-achieving schools in a State, which students does an SEA include to determine the percentage of students who are proficient in a school? 2

A-7. In determining proficiency of the “all students” group, does an SEA include students who are above proficient? 3



A-8. For purposes of identifying the persistently lowest-achieving schools in a State, what is a secondary school? 3

A-9. For purposes of identifying the persistently lowest-achieving schools in a State, what does it mean to be a secondary school “that is eligible for” Title I funds? 3

A-10. As used in the definition of “persistently lowest-achieving schools,” how many years make up a “number of years”? 3

A-11. From among which sets of schools must an SEA identify the lowest-achieving five percent or the lowest-achieving five schools? 3

A-12. May an SEA weight differently the two factors it must consider in identifying the persistently lowest-achieving schools (i.e., academic achievement of the “all students” group and lack of progress on the State’s assessments)? 4

A-13. In ranking its schools on the basis of each school’s academic achievement results of the “all students” group and lack of progress on the State’s assessments for purposes of identifying the persistently lowest-achieving schools in the State, may an SEA give different weight to its secondary schools and its elementary schools? 4

A-14. May an SEA take into account other factors in addition to those that it must consider in identifying the persistently lowest-achieving schools? 5

A-15. How can an SEA determine academic achievement in terms of proficiency of the “all students” group on the State’s reading/language arts and mathematics assessments combined to develop one list of schools that will enable it to identify the persistently lowest-achieving schools in the State? 5

A-16. For purposes of identifying the persistently lowest-achieving schools, how can an SEA determine whether a school has demonstrated a “lack of progress over a number of years” on the State’s assessments? 7

A-17. What is the complete sequence of steps an SEA should use to develop its final list of the persistently lowest-achieving schools in the State? 8

A-18. What is the definition of “increased learning time”? 10

A-19. Does the definition of “increased learning time” include before- or after-school instructional programs? 10

A-20. What is the definition of “student growth”? 11

A-21. Why is it necessary to define “student growth” for purposes of SIG grants? 11

A-22.   Do provisions related to SIG funds in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 affect the definition of “persistently lowest-achieving schools” or the school intervention models? 11

B. TURNAROUND MODEL 11



B-1. What are the required elements of a turnaround model? 11

B-2. In addition to the required elements, what optional elements may also be a part of a turnaround model? 12

B-3. What is the definition of “staff” as that term is used in the discussion of a turnaround model? 13

B-4. What are “locally adopted competencies”? 13

B-5. Is an LEA implementing the turnaround model required to use financial incentives, increased opportunities for promotion and career growth, and more flexible conditions as strategies to recruit, place, and retain staff with the skills necessary to meet the needs of the students in a turnaround model? 14

B-6. What is job-embedded professional development? 14

B-7. Does the requirement to implement an instructional program that is research-based and aligned (vertically and with State standards) require adoption of a new or revised instructional program? 15

B-8. What are examples of social-emotional and community-oriented services that may be supported with SIG funds in a school operating a schoolwide program? 15

B-9. May an LEA omit any of the actions outlined in the final requirements and implement its own version of a turnaround model? 15

C. RESTART MODEL 16



C-1. What is the definition of a restart model? 16

C-2. What is a CMO? 16

C-3. What is an EMO? 16

C-4. Prior to submitting its application for SIG funds, must an LEA know the particular EMO or CMO with which it would contract to restart a school? 16

C-5. What is the purpose of the “rigorous review process” used for selecting a charter school operator, a CMO, or an EMO? 16

C-6. Which students must be permitted to enroll in a school implementing a restart model? 17

C-7. May a restart school serve fewer grades than were previously served by the school in which the model is being implemented? 17

C-8. May a school implementing a restart model implement any of the required or permissible activities of a turnaround model or a transformation model? 17

C-9. If an LEA implements a restart model, must its contract with the charter school operator, CMO, or EMO hold the charter school operator, CMO, or EMO accountable for meeting the final requirements? 17

D. SCHOOL CLOSURE 18



D-1. What is the definition of “school closure”? 18

D-2. What costs associated with closing a school can be paid for with SIG funds? 18

D-3. May SIG funds be used in the school that is receiving students who previously attended a school that is subject to closure in order to cover the costs associated with accommodating those students? 18

D-4. Is the portion of an LEA’s SIG subgrant that is to be used to implement a school closure renewable? 18

D-5. How can an LEA determine whether a higher-achieving school is within reasonable proximity to a closed school? 19

D-6. In what kinds of schools may students who previously attended a closed school enroll? 19

E. TRANSFORMATION MODEL 19

19

E-1. With respect to elements of the transformation model that are the same as elements of the turnaround model, do the definitions and other guidance that apply to those elements as they relate to the turnaround model also apply to those elements as they relate to the transformation model? 19

E-2. Which activities related to developing and increasing teacher and school leader effectiveness are required for an LEA implementing a transformation model? 20

E-3. Must the principal and teachers involved in the development and design of the evaluation system be the principal and teachers in the school in which the transformation model is being implemented? 20



E-4. Under the final requirements, an LEA implementing the transformation model must remove staff “who, after ample opportunities have been provided for them to improve their professional practice, have not done so.” Does an LEA have discretion to determine the appropriate number of such opportunities that must be provided and what are some examples of such “opportunities” to improve? 21

E-5. In addition to the required activities, what other activities related to developing and increasing teacher and school leader effectiveness may an LEA undertake as part of its implementation of a transformation model? 21

E-6. How does the optional activity of “providing additional compensation to attract and retain” certain staff differ from the requirement to implement strategies designed to recruit, place, and retain certain staff? 21

E-7. Which activities related to comprehensive instructional reform strategies are required as part of the implementation of a transformation model? 22

E-8. In addition to the required activities, what other activities related to comprehensive instructional reform strategies may an LEA undertake as part of its implementation of a transformation model? 22

E-9. What activities related to increasing learning time and creating community-oriented schools are required for implementation of a transformation model? 23

E-10. What is meant by the phrase “family and community engagement” and what are some examples of ongoing mechanisms for family and community engagement? 23

E-11. In addition to the required activities, what other activities related to increasing learning time and creating community-oriented schools may an LEA undertake as part of its implementation of a transformation model? 23

E-12. How does the optional activity of extending or restructuring the school day to add time for strategies that build relationships between students, faculty, and other school staff differ from the requirement to provide increased learning time? 24

E-13. What activities related to providing operational flexibility and sustained support are required for implementation of a transformation model? 24

E-14. Must an LEA implementing the transformation model in a school give the school operational flexibility in the specific areas of staffing, calendars/time, and budgeting? 24

E-15. In addition to the required activities, what other activities related to providing operational flexibility and sustained support may an LEA undertake as part of its implementation of a transformation model? 25

F. CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES 25



F-1. How may an LEA implement the turnaround, school closure, restart, or transformation intervention models in a Tier I school operating a targeted assistance program? 25

F-2. What is the timeline for implementing an intervention model in a Tier I or Tier II school using FY 2009 funds? 26

F-3. What requirements that apply to schools receiving Title I, Part A funds apply to schools that receive SIG funds? 26

F-4. How do the Title I supplement not supplant requirements apply to SIG funds allocated under section 1003(g) of the ESEA? 26

F-5. What action must an LEA take if it receives SIG funds to implement one of the four models in a particular school and subsequently is unable to implement the model in that school? 27

F-6. May an LEA use SIG funds for general district-level improvement activities? 27

F-7. How can an LEA ensure that it is able to implement fully and effectively all required components of a selected school intervention model, given that some components may be affected by collective bargaining agreements or other contracts? 27

F-8. What are an SEA’s responsibilities for ensuring proper implementation of SIG grants? 28

F-9. May an SEA require an LEA to adopt a particular model for a particular school? 28

F-10. Is an SEA or LEA that receives SIG funds required to comply with applicable Federal civil rights laws? 28

G. PROVIDING FLEXIBILITY 29



G-1. May an SEA award SIG funds to an LEA for a Tier I or Tier II school that has implemented, in whole or in part, a turnaround model, restart model, or transformation model within the last two years? 29

G-2. May an SEA award SIG funds to an LEA for a Tier III school that has implemented, in whole or in part, a turnaround model, restart model, or transformation model within the last two years so that the LEA and school can continue or complete their implementation of the model? 29

G-3. What would the new improvement timeline be for a school implementing a school improvement timeline waiver of section 1116(b)(12) of the ESEA? 29

G-4. How does an SEA’s receipt of a waiver of section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) to extend the period of availability of SIG funds affect an LEA seeking SIG funds? 30

G-5. If an SEA receives a waiver of section 421(b) of GEPA to extend the period of availability of SIG funds, for how long will the funds be available? 30

G-6. What is the process for an SEA to apply for the waivers discussed in the final requirements? 30

G-7. What is the process for an LEA to request approval to implement a SIG-related waiver granted to an SEA? 30

G-8. Prior to applying for one or more of the waivers discussed in the final requirements through the submission of its application for SIG funds, must an SEA comply with the notice-and-comment requirements in section 9401 of the ESEA? 30

G-9. Must an SEA seek any of the waivers discussed in the final requirements? 31

G-10. If an SEA does not seek one or more of the waivers discussed in the final requirements, may an LEA seek those waivers directly from the Department? 31

H. LEA REQUIREMENTS 31



H-1. Must an LEA that previously submitted an approved SIG application that is eligible for renewal submit a new application for FY 2009 funds? 31

H-2. What must an LEA include in its application to the SEA for SIG funds? 31

H-3. Must an LEA identify every Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III school located within the LEA in its application for SIG funds? 33

H-4. If an LEA wishes to serve a Tier III school, must it provide SIG funds directly to the school? 33

H-5. Are there any particular school improvement strategies that an LEA must implement in its Tier III schools? 33

H-6. May an LEA use SIG funds to continue to implement school improvement strategies that do not meet the requirements of one of the four models but that have helped improve achievement in the LEA? 33

H-7. May an LEA implement several of the school intervention models among the Tier I and Tier II schools it commits to serve? 33

H-8. How can an LEA demonstrate that it has the capacity to use SIG funds to provide adequate resources and related support to each Tier I and Tier II school it commits to serve in order to implement fully and effectively one of the four school intervention models? 33

H-9. How can an LEA use “external providers” to turn around its persistently lowest-achieving schools? 34

H-10. What are examples of “other resources” an LEA might align with the interventions it commits to implement using SIG funds? 34

H-11. What is the cap on the number of schools in which an LEA may implement the transformation model and to which LEAs does it apply? 34

H-12. May an LEA use SIG funds to serve a school that feeds into a Tier I, Tier II, or Tier III school, but is not itself a Tier I, Tier II, or Tier III school? 35

H-13. What criteria must an LEA use to monitor each Tier I and Tier II school that receives SIG funds? 35

H-14. What are examples of the annual goals for student achievement that an LEA must establish? 35

H-15. What are the leading indicators that will be used to hold schools receiving SIG funds accountable? 35

I. SEA REQUIREMENTS 36



I-1. What must an SEA do to receive a SIG grant? 36

I-2. Before approving an LEA’s application, what factors must an SEA consider to determine whether the application meets the final requirements? 37

I-3. May an SEA require an LEA to implement a particular intervention in one or more of its schools? 38

I-4. May an SEA develop a needs assessment tool or rubric for all of its LEAs to use in determining which intervention will best address the needs of the Tier I and Tier II schools it commits to serve? 38

I-5. What information related to the SIG program must an SEA post on its Web site? 38

I-6. May an SEA award an LEA a lesser amount of SIG funds than the LEA requests in its application? 39

I-7. What are examples of additional criteria an SEA may use to differentiate among Tier III schools when setting priorities among LEA applications for funding? 39

I-8. May an SEA take over an LEA or specific Tier I or Tier II schools? 39

I-9. What SIG funds may an SEA use to implement a school intervention model in a Tier I or Tier II school it has taken over? 39

I-10. Under what circumstances may an SEA provide services directly to an eligible school? 40

I-11. If a Tier I or Tier II school meets the annual student achievement goals established by the LEA and makes progress on the leading indicators, must the SEA renew the LEA’s SIG grant with respect to that school? 40

I-12. If a Tier I or Tier II school does not meet the annual student achievement goals established by the LEA, may an SEA renew the LEA’s SIG grant with respect to that school? 40

I-13. May an SEA renew an LEA’s SIG grant even if the SEA determines that one or more of its schools do not warrant renewed funding? 41

I-14. Will an SEA be obligated to run another SIG competition for grants funded with FY 2010 funds (assuming the availability of appropriations)? 41

I-15. How must an SEA identify its Tier I and Tier II schools for purposes of any competition for SIG funds subsequent to the competition for FY 2009 funds? 41

I-16. How can an SEA support its LEAs and schools with their implementation of the school intervention models discussed in the final requirements? 41

I-17. How do the final requirements for the SIG program impact an SEA that is participating in the Department’s “differentiated accountability” pilot? 41

I-18. In the absence of a waiver, when will the period of availability for FY 2009 SIG funds expire? 42

J. SIG, RACE TO THE TOP, AND THE STATE FISCAL STABILIZATION FUND 42



J-1. How can a State design its Race to the Top and SIG plans to work in concert with one another? 42

J-2. What has the Department done to support coordination across SIG, Race to the Top, and the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund program (SFSF)? 43

K. REPORTING METRICS 43



K-1. May an SEA add to the list of leading indicators in the final requirements? 43

K-2. Which of the reporting metrics are new for the SIG program and must be annually reported by an SEA receiving a SIG grant? 43

K-3. For which schools must an SEA report on the metrics that are new for the SIG program? 43

K-4. For which metrics must an SEA report “baseline data” for the school year prior to the implementation of one of the four interventions? 44

K-5. How frequently must an SEA report on the SIG metrics? 44

K-6. Will the Department provide other guidance about the process for submitting and the substance to be included in the required reports? 44






School Improvement Grants Under Section 1003(g) of the
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965

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