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The Best Resources For Learning About The Four School Improvement Grant Models

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'old school' photo (c) 2009, alamosbasement - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

After a school has been labeled “failing” and becomes a recipient of a School Improvement Grant, their District must choose one of four interventions:

* Transformation, where the principal is fired, instructional strategies are revamped, and the school day is extended

* Turnaround, where the principal and at least half the staff is fired.

* Restart, where the school is closed and reopened as a charter (or it can stay open with staff in place if it works with an “educational partnership organization” — see comment below by Will E.)

* Close/Consolidate, where the school is…closed, and students sent elsewhere.

This is just a beginning list of related resources, and I hope that readers suggest others.

Here are my picks for The Best Resources For Learning About The Four School Improvement Grant Models:

I’ve got to start off with article in the Huffington Post by one of my favorite writers on school issues, John Thompson. Check out As School Turnarounds Strike Out, Try, Try Again.

The National Education Association Priority Schools program has some useful materials:

Strengthening Our Schools: A New Framework and Principles for Revising School Improvement Grants is by Congresswoman Judy Chu.

Talk Priority Schools has a collection of excellent SIG-related articles.

Struggling Schools and the Problem with the “Shut It Down” Mentality is by Robert Slavin at Ed Week.

What Works in School Turnarounds? is by Alan M. Blankstein and Pedro Noguera.

Giving Parents the Runaround on School Turnarounds is the title of the press release from the respected Great Lakes Center announcing a review of a recent report on marketing unwise “school turnaround strategies.” Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

Federal school “turnaround” strategies that call for firing teachers, replacing managers, or closing or converting public schools into charters are often met with resistance and anger among the parents whose children attend those schools. A recent study released by Public Agenda which focuses on how to market the concept of turnaround strategies fails to address the substantive concerns of resistant parents nor questions the soundness of these strategies as a way to improve schools, according to a new Think Twice review.

The report, What’s Trust Got to Do With It? A Communications and Engagement Guide for School Leaders Tackling the Problem of Persistently Failing Schools, was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by William J. Mathis, an education researcher and former school superintendent who has studied school turnaround strategies.

You can read the full review here.

Turnarounds: The SIG Mystery is a post from Alexander Russo that in turn links to a three part series in the Denver Post about the mystery of School Improvement Grants.

Flipping the Script on Turnarounds: Why not Retain Teachers instead of Reject Them? is by Anthony Cody at Education Week. He has also written Spinning the Numbers on Turnarounds: School Improvement Grant Controversy Brews.

SIG Failure Explained is by John Thompson.

The Paradoxical Logic of School Turnarounds: A Catch-22 is from Larry Cuban’s blog.

Democratic School Turnarounds: Pursuing Equity and Learning From Evidence is a brief from The National Education Policy Center. Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post has also written about it.

Ed. Dept. Analysis Paints Mixed Picture of SIG Program is from Education Week.

Why the School Turnaround Experiment Is Failing is by John Thompson.

“They didn’t come in and try to say that we needed to do everything differently”

Which Way Up: At a Glance is from The Center For Public Education and is a report on School Improvement Grants.

Performance Beyond Expectations is a report by Andy Hargreaves and Alma Harris that covers a lot of important topics. However, because of its comments related to “turnarounds,” I’m adding it to this list.

The Characteristics Of SIG Schools is from The Shanker Blog.

Federal analysis of school grants shows mixed results is from The Washington Post.

School Improvement Grant Program Gets Mixed Grades in Ed. Dept. Analysis is from Education Week.

The Predictable Failure of School Improvement Grants is by John Thompson.

Interesting SIG vs. non-SIG comparisons is from The Thomas Fordham Institute.

A Third Of Schools Saw Scores Fall After Getting Federal Grants is from The Huffington Post.

Ed Dept. pours $43 million into reform program with questionable results is from The Washington Post.

New SIG Analysis Yields Same Old Conclusion: Mixed Results is from Ed Week.

Are School Turnaround Efforts Overlooking English-Learners? is from Education Week.

Education Department Proposes Big Changes to School Improvement Grant Program is from Ed Week.

This is obviously not a complete list, and I hope readers can suggest more resources.

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You might also want to explore the nearly 700 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Remainders: The inconvenient truth about magical teachers | GothamSchools

  2. Quick clarification – the Restart model doesn’t require school closure/reopening, it can also involve keeping the school open, with teachers & leadership in place, and bringing in an educational partner organization (EPO), similar to New Visions or Urban Assembly, which is something we’ve done for many years in New York City. In fact, this model is likely to be implemented at a number of NYC schools in the upcoming school year. Thanks for the information!

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