...three reports as well as preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Education are beginning to shed light on whether the program has been able to increase student achievement. Two reports from the Center on Education Policy find the SIG program helps schools provide more intensive academic services and builds momentum for major reform. But concerns remain about the prescriptiveness of some SIG requirements, particularly in rural areas. Other challenges include finding and retaining staff in low-performing schools, staffing shortages in state education agencies that limit the ability to provide the schools with necessary support, and sustaining improvement efforts after the grants run out.
Another report from the Center for American Progress finds that state selectivity in doling out SIG grants varies widely. States like Vermont had a 100 percent application-approval rate compared to states like Louisiana that awarded grants to less than 30 percent of the schools that applied.
And speaking of which, there's some interesting perspectives from three of the New York City schools slated for turnaround this year.