The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, through use of section 1003(g) funding, authorizes the U.S. Department of Education to issue school improvement funds to states. The California Department of Education (CDE) is to award school improvement sub-grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) with persistently lowest-achieving Title I schools and to LEAs with persistently lowest-achieving secondary schools that are eligible for, but do not receive, Title I funds.
Eligible LEAs are those with one or more schools identified as persistently lowest-achieving and that demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to raise substantially the achievement of the students attending those schools.
The purpose of the SIG is to enable eligible LEAs to implement selected intervention models in identified persistently lowest-achieving schools to raise academic achievement levels of students attending these schools.
An LEA that has been identified with one or more persistently lowest-achieving schools is eligible to apply for SIG funds. An LEA that wishes to receive a school improvement grant must implement one of the following four school intervention models:
- Turnaround model means, among other actions, replacing the principal and rehiring no more than 50 percent of the school’s staff, adopting a new governance structure, increase learning time, and implementing an instructional program that is research-based and vertically aligned from one grade to the next as well as aligned with California’s adopted content standards.
- Restart model means convert a school or close and reopen it under a charter school operator, a charter management organization, or an education management organization that has been selected through a rigorous review process. A restart model school must enroll, within the grades it serves, any former student who wishes to attend the school.
- School closure means, an LEA closes a school and enrolls the students who attended that school in other schools in the LEA that are higher achieving. These other schools should be within reasonable proximity to the closed school and may include, but are not limited to, charter schools or new schools for which achievement data are not yet available.
- Transformation model means, implement each of the following strategies:
- Replace the principal and take steps to increase teacher and school leader effectiveness
- Institute comprehensive instructional reforms
- Increase learning time and create community-oriented schools
- Provide operational flexibility and sustained support
These models are to be implemented at the beginning of the school year and throughout the term of the grant period.
While the CDE anticipates awarding grant funding for the SIG program on a regular basis, it is important to note that grant funding for each fiscal year is contingent upon the availability of federal funds and the enactment of each respective federal and state Budget Act. When grant funding is available, the CDE will conduct a grant process that begins with the release of a Request for Applications.