Case Studies of Schools Receiving School Improvement Grants: Final Report
Evaluating Race to the Top and School Improvement Grants
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences
The Study of School Turnaround (SST) examines the change process in a diverse, purposive sample of schools receiving federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) from 2010–11 to 2012–13. With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the SIG program underwent three major shifts. First, ARRA boosted total SIG funding in fiscal year 2009 to approximately 6.5 times the original 2009 appropriation through Title I, section 1003(g) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). SIG funds were distributed to states by formula based on each state’s Title I share. States then had to competitively make SIG awards to districts with eligible schools. Second, ARRA targeted funds at only the very worst schools—those that were in the bottom 5 percent of performance and had been low performing for an extended period of time. Third, schools receiving SIG were now required to implement one of four prescriptive intervention models believed to be more aggressive and comprehensive than those generally adopted under prior policies (Hurlburt, Therriault, & Le Floch, 2012) (see Box ES.1). By increasing the level of funding, better targeting these funds to the persistently lowest-achieving schools, and requiring that schools adopt specific intervention models, the revamped SIG program aimed to catalyze more aggressive efforts to turn around student performance. This report focuses on a small sample of schools receiving SIG over the first three years of the revamped SIG program, from 2010–11 to 2012–13. It presents findings from the study’s 25 core sample schools, which were the focus of data collection in spring 2011 and spring 2012, and a subsample of 12 of the 25 schools (collectively referred to as the core subsample), which were selected for data collection in spring 2013 and are the focus of more in-depth analyses looking across all three years of SIG.
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