Skip to content
Printer-friendly version

SIG Frequently Asked Questions

State level School Improvement Grant questions and answers.
  1. Definitions and Criteria for School Selection

    1. Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) requires that high schools with a graduation rate that is less than 60 percent over a number of years be included on the list of persistently lowest-achieving schools. What is the definition of "a graduation rate that is less than 60 percent over a number of years"?
    2. What formula did California use to calculate the list of persistently lowest-achieving schools?
      Is this the same formula that other states are using?
    3. Our school’s Academic Performance Index (API) went up 62 points last year. Why does it appear as a persistently lowest-achieving school?
    4. What are the criteria to be taken off the five percent persistently lowest-performing schools list in subsequent years?
  2. Turnaround Model

    1. What is the expected timeline for the implementation of the turnaround model?
    2. The principal must be replaced before the first day of school, but can teacher replacements occur over a longer period of time?
    3. If a local educational agency (LEA) has replaced over 50 percent of a school’s staff in the last three years, do they still have to replace at least 50 percent of the staff prior to the beginning of the 2010–11 school year?
    4. What if our collective bargaining agreement does not allow for the replacement of 50 percent of the staff at a school intending to implement the turnaround model?
    5. Concerning the requirement to replace the principal and at least 50 percent of the staff, is that certificated staff only or does it include certificated and non-certificated personnel that are classified employees?
  3. Restart Model

    1. What is the expected timeline for the implementation of the restart model?
    2. Can an LEA be a Charter Management Organization (CMO)?
    3. May a Tier III school that has selected a restart intervention model be granted a waiver to “start over” in the program improvement (PI) timeline and be removed from PI status?
    4. If an LEA has a question or the need for clarification about charter schools
      and the SIG process, what office in the CDE may be contacted?
  4. School Closure

    1. What is the expected timeline for the implementation of the school closure model?
    2. When a school has implemented a school closure model, may the funds be used in the school that is receiving the students?
  5. Transformation Model

    1. What is the expected timeline for the implementation of the transformation model?
    2. If an LEA is already implementing many of the elements of a transformation model at one of its schools, can it continue to implement this model?
  6. Cross-Cutting Issues

    1. Do the four intervention models circumvent local bargaining agreements?
    2. What is the general timeline for implementation of these models?
    3. Can the 2010–11 school year be used as a planning year for 2009–10 SIG recipients?
    4. Is an LEA that has hired a principal for the specific purpose of implementing, in whole or in part, a turnaround model within the last two years at a Tier I or Tier II school required to replace that principal?
    5. May an LEA that has implemented, in whole or in part, a turnaround model, restart model, or transformation model in one of its Tier I or Tier II schools within the last two years continue to implement that model? 
    6. May an LEA elect to implement other locally-selected school improvement activities instead of one of the four intervention models?
    7. How much money is available and when will it be distributed?
    8. What if an LEA application is approved and they subsequently determine that they cannot implement the selected model?
    9. What is the research base for the four intervention models?
    10. Can an LEA implement multiple models at one school?
    11. If a district has Tier I or Tier II, and Tier III schools, but is only funded for its Tier I or Tier II schools, can the district use some of those funds for activities at the Tier III school(s)?
    12. May an LEA use SIG funds for general district-level improvement activities?
    13. How will the “10 percent rule” referenced in the state’s Open Enrollment Act be implemented in the SIG process?
    14. May an LEA commit to serve some, yet not all, Tier I and Tier II schools based on the LEAs assessment of its capacity to serve these schools?
    15. If the state educational agency (SEA) approves an LEAs application for a lesser amount than the LEA requested, will the LEA remain obligated to implement all activities identified in its application?
    16. What happens if a school does not improve or improve "enough"?
    17. Are there any guidelines as to what the District has to do with the principal who is removed? Is there a process by which a District selects a new principal? Can the money from SIG be used to pay financial incentives to a new principal and staff?
    18. Can the principal’s evaluation be tied to the test scores in a turnaround model in which a principal and 50 percent of staff are replaced?
    19. May a local school board vote on the action to be taken and apply for SIG funding, but take a year to plan and set up that action? Or does action have to be taken immediately?

A. Definitions and Criteria for School Selection

  1. Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) requires that high schools with a graduation rate that is less than 60 percent over a number of years be included on the list of persistently lowest-achieving schools. What is the definition of “a graduation rate that is less than 60 percent over a number of years”?

    The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) four-year completer rate was evaluated for schools in Tier I and Tier II. Any school with a high school graduation rate below 60 percent in each of the last four years was included in the list. (Note: To be consistent with the n-size approved in California’s Accountability Workbook, only schools with 100 or more valid scores included in the calculation of the School’s Academic Performance (API) in each of the last four years were included in the analysis, pending approval of waiver request.)

  2. What formula did California use to calculate the list of persistently lowest-achieving schools? Is this the same formula that other states are using?

    The formula is based on the criteria provided for all states by the ED. Therefore, the formulas developed by all states share similar characteristics. Formula details were developed by each state based on available student performance data. For example, California used the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced on each schools Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report to determine the list of persistently lowest-achieving schools. The criteria for establishing the list is posted on the California Department of Education Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools Web page.

    Back to Top

  3. Our school’s Academic Performance Index (API) went up 62 points last year. Why does it appear as a persistently lowest-achieving school?

    Senate Bill (SB)X 5 1, Section 53201(e)(4), specifies that schools with academic growth of at least 50 points over the previous five years as measured by the API be excluded from the list of schools identified as persistently lowest-achieving. To calculate this measure, the API growth value (i.e., the difference between the Growth API score and the Base API score that is shown on each school’s Growth API report) is summed for the last five years, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2006–07, 2007–08, and 2008–09. If this sum is at least 50 points the school does not continue in the analysis. If, for example, a school’s API growth value last year was 62 points, but in the previous four years its total growth value totaled 15 points, the sum of its growth values over the last five years is less than 50 points, so it could be identified as a persistently lowest-achieving school.

  4. What are the criteria to be taken off the five percent persistently lowest-achieving schools list in subsequent years?

    A school will not be identified as “persistently lowest-achieving” in subsequent years if an increase in the average proficiency rate precludes the school from being included in the lowest five percent or the school exits program improvement (PI) status.

    A new list of Tier I, II, and III schools, excluding those schools currently receiving SIG funding for the 2009–10 grant year, will be established using the same methodology as used in the 2009–10 cohort or as directed otherwise by ED guidance. If a local educational agency (LEA) is eligible to participate in 2009–10 and chooses not to submit an application for funding, the LEA may submit an application in 2010–11 if the LEA has been listed as eligible for SIG funding.

    Back to Top

B. Turnaround Model

  1. What is the expected timeline for the implementation of the turnaround model?

    Several key elements must be in place by the first day of school, including replacing the principal, rehiring no more than 50 percent of the school’s staff, developing a school schedule with increased learning time, adopting a new governance structure, and a general plan for collection and use of data.

    Other required elements, such as policy development, implementing strategies to increase recruiting and retaining staff, staff development, and social-emotional and community-oriented services will be implemented under the direction of the new principal throughout the 2010–11 school year.

  2. The principal must be replaced before the first day of school, but can teacher replacements occur over a longer period of time?

    All required staff replacements described in the turnaround model including the principal and at least half of teaching staff, must occur before the first day of the 2010–11 school year.

  3. If a local educational agency (LEA) has replaced over 50 percent of a school’s staff in the last three years, do they still have to replace at least 50 percent of the staff prior to the beginning of the 2010–11 school year ?

    Question G-1 from the Frequently Asked Questions for Local Educational Agencies on School Improvement Grant, provided by the ED External link opens in new window or tab. states that Section I.B.1. of the final requirements allow a state educational agency to award SIG funds to an LEA for a Tier I or Tier II school that has implemented, in whole or in part, one of the models within the last two years so that the LEA and school can continue or complete the intervention being implemented. ED has recently clarified in a national conference call with states that the two years referenced with respect to this flexibility are the two years prior to the full implementation of the model in accordance with the notice using SIG funds for which an LEA has complete achievement data. In other words, with respect to the award of fiscal year 2009 funds for implementation in the 2010–11 school years, the “last two years” are the 2007–08 and 2008–09 school years. While this flexibility applies to any activity undertaken as part of one of the reform models currently available, we wish to highlight that, as a result of this clarification, a principal who has been replaced since July 1, 2007, as part of an ongoing reform effort may be retained for the purposes of implementing a SIG model.

  4. What if our collective bargaining agreement does not allow for the replacement of 50 percent of the staff at a school intending to implement the turnaround model?

    If collective bargaining agreements preclude the replacement of 50 percent of the staff, an LEA should select one of the other three models.
  5. Concerning the requirement to replace the principal and at least 50 percent of the staff, is that certificated staff only or does it include certificated and non-certificated personnel that are classified employees?

    The LEA determines whether it would apply to only certificated or to both groups. Whichever the district determines must apply to all schools.

    Back to Top

C. Restart Model

  1. What is the expected timeline for implementation of the restart model?

    Schools will be expected to open under the new management on the first day of the 2010–11 school year. An LEA should contract with the management organization (either Charter Management Organization (CMO) or education management organization (EMO) in advance of the school year to allow for the school to open under the new management on the first day of school 2010–11.

  2. Can an LEA be a CMO?

    An LEA that elects to convert a school to a charter school may be a charter school operator under the restart model. The LEA may either contract with an independent CMO to administer the school, or manage the charter school directly.

  3. May a Tier III school that has selected a restart intervention model be granted a waiver to “start over” in the program improvement (PI) timeline and be removed from PI status?

    No. This waiver applies to Tier I and Tier II schools funded with SIG only.

  4. If an LEA has a question or the need for clarification about charter schools
    and the SIG process, what office in the CDE may be contacted?

    Interested persons may contact the Charter School Division at 916-322-6029.

    Back to Top

D. School Closure

  1. What is the expected timeline for the implementation of the school closure model?

    An LEA may prepare for the school’s closure throughout the 2010–11 school year and close the school no later than the end of the 2010–11 school year.

  2. When a school has implemented a school closure model, may the funds be used in the school that is receiving the students?

    No. SIG funds may only be used at the school approved on the application.

    Back to Top

E. Transformation Model

  1. What is the expected timeline for implementation of the transformation model?

    Schools that implement the transformation model are expected to implement several key elements by the first day of the 2010–11 school year. These include replacing the principal, increasing instructional time, and instituting an effective data analysis system.

    Other required elements, such as instituting a new teacher and principal evaluation system, identifying and rewarding successful school leaders and staff and replacing ineffective staff, increasing family and community engagement, and staff development activities are to be initiated in the 2010–11 school year and implemented throughout the term of the grant.

  2. If an LEA is already implementing many of the elements of a transformation model at one of its schools, can it continue to implement this model?

    Yes, the final requirements allow the CDE to award SIG funds to an LEA for a Tier I or Tier II school that has implemented, in whole or in part, one of the models within the last two years so that an LEA and school can continue or complete the intervention being implemented. A school that receives SIG funds in accordance with this flexibility must fully implement the selected model as required by the final requirements. When completing the SIG application, an LEA should indicate in the school’s implementation plan which elements have been completed and which elements will be completed during the term of the grant. The implementation plan must include all required elements of the selected model.

    Back to Top

F. Cross-Cutting Issues

  1. Do the four intervention models circumvent local bargaining agreements?

    No, participation in SIG does not alter any local bargaining agreements. However, LEAs are expected to modify policies and practices in order to fully implement one of the intervention models.

  2. What is the general timeline for implementation of these models?

    Schools funded through the 2009–10 SIG are expected to implement all required components in the 2010–11 school year. Certain required components must be implemented prior to the beginning of the 2010–11 school year. Refer to the applicable section of this document for specific timeline information regarding each model.    

  3. Can the 2010–11 school year be used as a planning year for 2009–10 SIG recipients?

    No, 2010 SIG recipients must implement the required components of their selected intervention model in the 2010–11 school year.

    Back to Top

  4. Is an LEA that has hired a principal for the specific purpose of implementing, in whole or in part, a turnaround model within the last two years at a Tier I or Tier II school required to replace that principal?

    If a Tier I or Tier II school has replaced its principal within the last two years (see question B-3 above), the CDE may award funds to the school’s LEA to implement a turnaround model in the school without requiring the hiring of a new principal. When completing the SIG application, an LEA should indicate in the school’s implementation plan which elements have been completed and which elements will be completed during the term of the grant. The implementation plan must include all required elements of the selected model.

  5. May an LEA that has implemented, in whole or in part, a turnaround model, restart model, or transformation model in one of its Tier I or Tier II schools within the last two years continue to implement that model?

    Yes, ED Guidance on SIG states that the CDE may award SIG funds to an LEA for a Tier I or Tier II school that has implemented, in whole or in part, one of the models within the last two years so that an LEA and school can continue or complete the intervention being implemented. A school that receives SIG funds in accordance with this flexibility must fully implement the selected model as required by the final requirements.  When completing the SIG application, an LEA should indicate in the school’s implementation plan which elements have been completed and which elements will be completed during the term of the grant. The implementation plan must include all required elements of the selected model.

    Back to Top

  6. May an LEA elect to implement other locally-selected school improvement activities instead of one of the four intervention models?

    An LEA may use SIG funds for appropriate locally-selected school improvement activities in a Tier III school if that school’s application is funded. The LEA may also add appropriate locally-selected activities to the school intervention models in Tier I or Tier II schools if those activities are consistent with the requirements of the selected models. However, an LEA with schools in Tier I or Tier II must select one of the four intervention models and implement all required components of the selected model

  7. How much money is available and when will it be distributed?

    For fiscal year (FY) 2009, California is scheduled to receive $415 million, approximately $64 million through the ED Appropriations Act of 2009, and $351 million through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). An approved LEA application will receive a minimum of $50,000 and a maximum $2,000,000 per year for each of their eligible Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III schools that are included and approved in the sub-grant application. Funding levels will reflect an LEA’s state-approved projected cost of implementing the selected intervention strategy for each school. A timeline for receipt of grant award notice and payment is available on page 2 on the Request for Applications.

    Back to Top

  8. What if an LEA application is approved and the LEA subsequently determines that it cannot implement the selected model?

    An LEA that receives SIG funds to implement an intervention model in a particular school may subsequently determine that it is unable to implement the model in that school, for example, because it is unable to hire a principal to implement a turnaround model or is unable to contract with a CMO or an EMO to implement a restart model. In such instances the LEA must amend its application indicating which other model it will implement in that school.

  9. What is the research base for the four intervention models?

    The Center on Innovation and Improvement Handbook on Effective Implementation of School Improvement Grants External link opens in new window or tab. contains detailed information about the four intervention models.

    Back to Top

  10. Can an LEA implement multiple models at one school?

    An LEA may implement more than one model in a school. For example, an LEA with a kindergarten through grade six school identified as “persistently lowest-achieving” may choose to implement the restart model in one or two grades at a time, while implementing one of the other models in the remaining grades.

  11. If a district has Tier I or Tier II, and Tier III schools, but is only funded for its Tier I or Tier II schools, can the district use some of those funds for activities at the Tier III school(s)?

    No, an LEA must only use the funds to serve the Tier I or Tier II school(s) that are funded through the sub-grant. Funds are provided for a specific school and must be used in their entirety at or for that school.

    Back to Top

  12. May an LEA use SIG funds for general district-level improvement activities?

    The Guidance states that an LEA may use SIG funds to pay for district-level activities to support implementation one of the four school intervention models in each Tier I and Tier II school it commits to serve and to support other school improvement strategies in the Tier III schools it commits to serve. An LEA may not use SIG funds to support district-level activities for schools that are not receiving SIG funds. This means that SIG funds could be used to pay for the SIG schools portion of a district mandated professional development activity, as long as it is aligned with the selected intervention model.

  13. How will the “10 percent rule” referenced in the state’s Open Enrollment Act be implemented in the SIG process?

    The “10 percent rule” will not be implemented in the SIG process. The 10 percent rule applies to the Open Enrollment Act and is defined in Education Code (EC) Section 48352. This statute details opportunities for parents to enhance parental choice in education by providing additional options to pupils to enroll in public schools throughout California.

    The Open Enrollment Act charges the Superintendent to identify “low-achieving schools” according to a specific set of criteria and does not apply to SIG funding. EC Section 48352(A) states that a local educational agency shall have no more than 10 percent of its schools on this list in order to participate in the Open Enrollment Act. For purposes of the SIG grant, a list of “persistently lowest-achieving” schools have been identified as per EC Section 53202(a).

    Back to Top

  14. May an LEA commit to serve some, yet not all, Tier I and Tier II schools based on the LEAs assessment of its capacity to serve these schools?

    Yes. An LEA must demonstrate its capacity to serve each Tier I and Tier II school identified in its application. If an LEA is not applying to serve all Tier I and Tier II schools it must explain why it lacks the capacity to serve each of these schools. The SEA will review the description of the limitation to determine whether the rationale provided supports the LEA’s claim of lack of capacity.

    Back to Top

  15. If the SEA approves an LEAs application for a lesser amount than the LEA requested, will the LEA remain obligated to implement all activities identified in its application?

    Yes, an approved application requires all activities to be fully implemented. The SEA reserves the right to fund the application at a lesser amount if it is determined that proposed activities in the application can be implemented with less funding. In addition, if funding is not sufficient to fully fund all applications that merit award, the SEA reserves the right to fund applications at a lesser amount, identify which schools or sites will receive funding, and award sub-grants accordingly. However, the SEA intends to provide sufficient funding to each funded school to allow for implementation of all elements of the school’s planned intervention. The applicant LEA may reserve the option to withdraw its application at any time.

    Back to Top

  16. What happens if a school does not improve or improve “enough”?

    The goal of SIG is to assist schools in exiting PI. However, there is no specific requirement for an amount of improvement under SIG. The general Title I requirements would still apply.

  17. Are there any guidelines as to what the district has to do with the principal who is removed? Is there a process by which a district selects a new principal? Can the money from SIG be used to pay financial incentives to a new principal and staff?

    There are no guidelines regarding how to handle a principal who has been removed nor how to select a new principal; these are local decisions. SIG funds are flexible but their use must be within the bounds of the application and must be documented in the Single Plan for Student Achievement.

    Back to Top

  18. Can the principal’s evaluation be tied to the test scores in a turnaround model in which a principal and 50 percent of staff are replaced?

    Yes, at local discretion.

  19. May a local school board vote on the action to be taken and apply for SIG funding, but take a year to plan and set up that action? Or does action have to be taken immediately?

    If the local school board accepts SIG funding, it must begin implementation immediately. Draft information regarding how to apply for SIG funding along with the requirements and guidelines is currently posted on the State Board of Education Agenda Web page, Item #18. Note that this draft application is subject to change based on review and approval requirements provided by the ED.

    Back to Top

Questions:   School Turnaround Office | sto@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0833
Download Free Readers