Two-thirds of schools receiving School Improvement Grants (SIG) funds made gains in year one, but one-third declined, according to a new study from the USDOE.
We’re actually pretty surprised that so many of the schools are going up; usually it takes a year to improve the climate and culture in a strong turnaround, before you get any achievement boost. But we definitely shouldn’t be too surprised that there’s not more progress, given that so many districts are choosing the path of least resistance: a new principal and some light-touch consulting with no accountability for results.
There’s still too little focus on using integrated outside partners to coordinate the work. And too much reliance on the old system, which we know is inherently flawed. Too few principals have the autonomous conditions they need to rebuild their cultures. And too few districts are creating coherent school clusters that suburban families take for granted. Until those “3 C’s” are in place, probably safe to assume more of the same. Even any short-term gains will be vulnerable without a more dramatic approach that gets outside of the traditional system.