To the Editor:
We agree with the article “School Improvement Grant Efforts Face Hurdles” (April 27, 2011) and the conclusion that schools, districts, and states across the country are struggling to meet the needs of the revamped federal School Improvement Grant program. While no state has figured out how to “solve” the problems that face persistently low-performing schools, a few states are embracing the challenge head-on, significantly changing how this subset of schools is supported, shifting the state role from compliance to support, and implementing promising practices that will increase the likelihood of success.
The Center on Innovation & Improvement and Corbett Education Consulting assist and advise state education leaders on how to implement the SIG program and how to build coherent state systems of support. Through our work, it became clear that a few states developed, or were in the process of developing, improvement programs that should be shared with the rest of the country.
We created a series of case studies to profile promising practices of the SIG program. Interviews with state education agency leaders and document analysis were used to gather information, codify the models, and determine promising practices. Montana developed a state-led coaching model to meet the high needs and remote nature of its American Indian communities; strong and focused support are the foundations of Oklahoma’s SIG program; and Virginia created a well-aligned support system to assist teams of external lead partners while school and district staff develop capacity and implement the SIG models.
While every state’s improvement program varies, and these three states continue to refine their own models, aspects of each of these examples could be incorporated into any state or district.
Center on Innovation & Improvement
Founder and Principal Corbett Education Consulting
A version of this article appeared in the June 08, 2011 edition of Education Week as States Lead Way on SIG Initiatives