Three years ago, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced that the Obama administration would spend $3.5 billion — including $3 billion in stimulus funding — on Student Improvement Grants. The money, he said, would “support the transformational changes that are needed to turn around the nation’s lowest-achieving schools.”
Now, after the Obama administration spent up to $2 million per school at more than 1,300 of the nation’s lowest-performing schools, the data shows that one third of schools receiving SIG funding had declines in achievement — a “not surprising finding,” the Education Department said, “given the steep institutional challenges that these schools face.”
“There’s dramatic change happening in these schools, and in the long-term process of turning around the nation’s lowest-performing schools, one year of test scores only tells a small piece of the story,” Duncan said on in a Nov. 19 news release.
But the Education Department says in three main areas, there are signs of “positive momentum” and progress:
The first year of data (beginning in the 2009-2010 school year and ending in the 2010-2011 school year) shows the following:
– Two thirds of schools showed gains in math, and two thirds showed gains in reading.
– A larger percentage of elementary schools showed gains than did secondary schools– “suggesting that it is easier to improve student performance at a young age than to intervene later.”
– Seventy percent of elementary schools showed gains in math, and seventy percent showed gains in reading, a higher percentage of improving schools than was found in middle or high schools.
– Some of the greatest gains have been in small towns and rural communities.