Blog

Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.

Federal

ED Offers SIG Schools Extra Time for Teacher Evaluation Systems

By Alyson Klein — August 24, 2011 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The U.S. Department of Education has quietly invited states and schools using the most popular of four school improvement models to apply for some extra time to figure out the trickiest—and, arguably, the most crucial—component of the federal turnaround strategy: teacher evalution.

States and schools can apply for a waiver to get more time to come up with teacher evaluation systems that take student progress into account. Those systems are a requirement of the “transformational model,” the most widely used and, many argue, the least rigorous of the four School Improvement Grant models.

Schools that got the grants the very first year they were available (the 2010-11 school year) were supposed to devise and start implementing the new systems last year. But many are considering these types of evaluations for the first time, and creating them hasn’t been easy.

Now, states can apply for a waiver to give the first round of SIG schools (those that started in the 2010-11 year) more time. Schools can develop the evaulation systems this school year, then pilot them next year. Schools should be ready to use those evaluation systems for hiring, firing, retention, and promotion by the end of the 2013-14 school year.

Schools that start implementing transformation this year (the 2011-12 school year) also have to develop their systems this year, pilot them next year, and have them up and running by the 2013-14 school year.

The department invited states to apply for the waivers in a letter, sent August 12.

The supercharged School Improvement Grant program was one of the Obama’s administration’s most controversial moves (even if Race to the Top did suck up way more attention). In a nutshell, the program, which got a whopping $3 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, asked states to pick their lowest-performing schools 5 percent of schools. Schools were asked to implement one of four improvement models, which could include such major steps as removing principals that have been on the job more than three years, getting rid of 50 percent of a school’s teachers, or closing the school entirely.

The most popular model, by far, was the transformational model, which doesn’t call for staff removal. Instead, teachers are supposed to be given extensive professional development, the school must get new governing authority, and extend learning time, among other strategies. And transformation schools also must create new teacher evaluation systems that take student performance into account in hiring, firing, promotion, and retention decisions.

That can be a tall order, requiring districts to implement new collective bargaining agreements in some places, sometimes for just one or two schools in a large district.

The SIG grants are supposed to be for three years. But under the timelines outlined in the waiver, schools that started in the very first year would already be done with their grants by the time the new evaluation system is off the ground. That could be problematic for folks trying to figure out if these models do what the department says they do (namely, help fix the very worst schools in the country).

So far, just one state, Utah, has applied for a waiver. The department has encouraged states to get their paperwork in by Aug. 26. But Daren Briscoe, a spokesman for the department, says the agency fully expects that applications will come in after that date.

Briscoe also stressed that these are not blanket waivers. And the letter cautions states not to give any extra time to schools that haven’t been making “good-faith effort” to develop the evaluation systems.

Politics K-12 analysis: This is all very technical, but it could be argued that the department is taking an important step when it comes to providing wiggle room on SIG, which many see as a very rigid, our-way-or-the-highway type of program. Lots of folks argued the inital timeline was plain unrealistic. But it also could be argued that the department is seriously (if temporarily) watering down the most widely used of the SIG models. What do you think?

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

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.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
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.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
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.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

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

Federal White House Launches Hispanic Education Initiative Led by Miguel Cardona
President Joe Biden said his administration intends to address the "systemic causes" of educational disparities faced by Hispanic students.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona writes down and draws positive affirmations on poster board with students during his visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits students in New York City at P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school in the Bronx last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP
Federal Feds Add Florida to List of States Under Investigation Over Restrictions on Mask Mandates
The Education Department told the state Sept. 10 it will probe whether its mask rule is violating the rights of students with disabilities.
3 min read
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Federal How Biden Will Mandate Teacher Vaccines, Testing in Some States That Don't Require Them
President Joe Biden's COVID-19 plan will create new teacher vaccination and testing requirements in some states through worker safety rules.
4 min read
Nurse Sara Muela, left, administers the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site setup for teachers and school staff at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa., on March 15, 2021.
Nurse Sara Muela administers a COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site for at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa.
Matt Rourke/AP
Federal Biden Pushes Schools to Expand COVID-19 Testing, Get More Teachers Vaccinated
President Joe Biden set teacher vaccine requirements for federally operated schools as part of a new effort to drive down COVID's spread.
7 min read
President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in Washington. Biden is announcing sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant.
President Joe Biden in a speech from the White House announces sweeping new federal vaccine requirements and other efforts in an renewed effort to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.
Andrew Harnik/AP