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School Improvement Grant Reanalysis Shows Smaller Gains Than First Reported

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A revamped analysis of the Obama administration's controversial and costly School Improvement Grant program continues to show that billions of federal dollars produced mixed results when it comes to one of the toughest challenges in education policy: turning around perennially foundering schools.

About two-thirds of schools that took part in the program showed gains in the first year, while another third slid backward, the analysis, done under contract for the U.S. Department of Education, found.

The conclusions closely mirror those in an analysis put out by the Education Department in November—and then promptly pulled back after department officials realized its contractor, the American Institutes for Research, had erroneously excluded too many schools. In the revised analysis, results didn't change substantially.

Percent-Pointage Gains

Like the original analysis, the revamped review shows that the first cohort of schools—those that started in the 2010-11 school year—made greater progress overall than the second cohort, which started in the 2011-12 school year. The revamped data, like the original, show that schools in small towns and rural areas are generally outpacing their urban and suburban counterparts, especially in math.

One noticeable shift came in overall averages. In both math and reading, the first cohort's scores improved, as they did in the first analysis, but not by as much. The same held true for math scores for the second cohort, but reading gains rose in the reanalysis.

Vol. 33, Issue 22, Page 5

Published in Print: February 26, 2014, as School Improvement Grant Reanalysis Shows Smaller Gains Than First Reported
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