Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Big new money to turn around our weakest schools

The Courier-Journal reports:
Kentucky has been awarded $56 million to help turn around its lowest-performing schools, including six in Jefferson County, with radical changes that could include replacing staff, closing or restructuring the school.

The federal school-improvement grants, announced Wednesday, represent a six-fold increase from last year — a boost funded by the federal stimulus program. They'll help 10 of Kentucky's worst-scoring schools with at least $1.5 million each over three years to implement strategies intended to turn them around.

Another 98 state schools, in slightly less dire circumstances, will get smaller amounts to be determined.

“It's a huge investment, and we've got a lot of work to do,” said Kentucky education commissioner Terry Holliday, “At some of these schools, less than 30 percent were passing 10th-grade competency requirements.”
I'll add a couple of points.

First, this push to transform the schools that are persistently low performing reflects a more targeted strategy than we saw under federal No Child Left Behind or the Kentucky Education Reform Act.  It's intensive work in a small number of schools, rather than weaker efforts with a wider group.

Second, this $56 million is separate from the other stimulus funding discussed here. It's not Race to the Top or the Race to the Top money.  It's not the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund money that is being used to maintain the SEEK guarantee.  It's not the added money for Head Start, and it's not the added money for students with disabilities. It's another set of dollars, allowing us to implement another set of innovations.

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