Special Report
School & District Management News in Brief

Final Rules Set for School Turnaround Grants

States, Districts Must Pick From Four Models for Grants to Fix Lowest-Performing Schools
By Michele McNeil — December 04, 2009 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Includes updates and/or revisions.

The U.S. Department of Education has finalized its rules governing $3.5 billion in school improvement grants for states and districts, making only small changes despite criticism that its four models for turning around the nation’s worst schools are too prescriptive.

States have until Feb. 8 to submit applications for their share of the money, which comes from $3 billion of the federal economic-stimulus package and $546 million of the Education Department’s fiscal 2009 appropriation. The money will be spent over the next three years, although states can ask for a waiver to use it through 2013.

To get their money, states must target schools that rank in the bottom 5 percent in student achievement. In one change from the proposed regulations, the definition of lowest-achieving schools has been expanded to include high schools with graduation rates below 60 percent for a “number of years.”

The money will flow to states based on the Title I formula for aid to disadvantaged students, but states will award the money competitively to districts.

School districts must agree to one of four turnaround models: closing the school and sending students to higher-achieving ones; turning it around by replacing the principal and most of the staff; “restarting” the school by turning it over to a charter- or education-management organization; or implementing a mandatory basket of strategies labeled “transformation.”

During a 30-day public-review period for the proposed regulations, 180 comments were submitted, many of them critical of what was described as highly prescriptive reforms from the federal government. Critics said the models might not work in communities where teacher and principal shortages exist, where teachers’ union contracts pose barriers, or where closing an entire school isn’t feasible.

But, for the most part, the department refused to budge.

The department wrote in its final notice, released Dec. 3: “Over the course of the past eight years, states and [districts] have had considerable time, and have been able to tap new resources, to identify and implement effective school turnaround strategies. Yet they have demonstrated little success in doing so.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the December 09, 2009 edition of Education Week as New Rules Set for $3.5 Billion in Turnaround Aid


Student Well-Being Webinar After-School Learning Top Priority: Academics or Fun?
Join our expert panel to discuss how after-school programs and schools can work together to help students recover from pandemic-related learning loss.
Budget & Finance Webinar Leverage New Funding Sources with Data-Informed Practices
Address the whole child using data-informed practices, gain valuable insights, and learn strategies that can benefit your district.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
ChatGPT & Education: 8 Ways AI Improves Student Outcomes
Revolutionize student success! Don't miss our expert-led webinar demonstrating practical ways AI tools will elevate learning experiences.
Content provided by Inzata

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management School Counselors Face 'Role Ambiguity.' This State Tried to Clarify Matters
New York's new regulations didn't always change how principals viewed or interacted with school counselors, research finds.
5 min read
Man trapped in maze.
Man trapped in maze.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management Women of Color Bring Special Strengths to the Superintendency, New Research Suggests
They have deep expertise in instructional leadership and a facility for working with stakeholders and managing thorny social issues.
4 min read
Image of diverse faces.
School & District Management 3 Principles to Help School and District Leaders Build Better Relationships With Teachers
Communication, capacity building, and a willingness to fail are key tenets of relationship-building, school and district leaders say.
2 min read
051223 Lead Sym Alyson 2 jb BS
Chris Ferenzi for Education Week
School & District Management This Principal Says It's Critical to Infuse Students' and Teachers' Days With Joy
Part of a school leader's role is to guard against outside distractions so teachers can focus on kids, says Salome Thomas-EL.
2 min read
051223 Lead Sym Caitlynn jb BS
Chris Ferenzi for Education Week