Case Studies of Schools Receiving School Improvement Grants: Final Report

With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) program underwent three major shifts; by increasing the level of funding, better targeting these funds to the persistently lowest-achieving schools, and requiring that schools adopt specific intervention models, the revamped SIG program aimed to catalyze more aggressive efforts to turn around student performance. This report focuses on a small sample of schools receiving SIG over the first three years of the revamped SIG program from 2010–11 to 2012–13.

Key Findings

  • A majority of the 25 core sample schools replaced their principal at least once in the year before (2009–10) or in Year 1 of SIG (2010–11).
  • About half of the 25 core sample schools replaced at least 50 percent of their teachers during the 2009–10, 2010–11, or 2011–12 school years.
  • According to teacher survey data, more teachers reported participating in professional learning on math, literacy, and data use than on ELL instruction, special education, or classroom management during Year 2 of SIG (2011–12).
  • Core sample schools reported receiving support from their district and external support provider(s) , but in some cases, respondents described shortcomings in their district or external support.
  • Among the 12 core subsample schools, those that appeared to engage in more efforts to build human capital in Years 1 and 2 of SIG were more likely to improve their organizational capacity (or sustain their already higher capacity).
  • Sustainability of any improvements may prove fragile.