ED: $7 Billion Grant Program Didn’t Help Failing Schools in America

Policy & Government

ED: $7 Billion Grant Program Didn’t Help Failing Schools in America

Jan 24, 2017

$7 BILLION CAN BUY MANY THINGS. Better student outcomes may not be one of them, according to a new report (PDF) from the Department of Education’s Institution of Education Sciences. The study, which looks at the $7 billion School Improvement Grants (SIG) program, found that the federal program failed to effect significant changes in math or reading test scores, high school graduation or college enrollment for schools who received SIG funding.

SIG began in 2007 under the George W. Bush administration and received a boost under the Obama administration, including an additional $3 billion from the 2009 economic stimulus package. The program awarded funding to states, which could then award up to $2 million to their lowest performing schools. Selected schools were required to adopt one of four school intervention strategies: replacing the principal or at least half of all teachers, switching to a charter school model, undergoing a “transformation” by replacing the principal and reforming instruction, or closing a school altogether. According to the Washington Post, the Education Department only tracked which four strategies an awarded school chose, and did not keep tabs on how exact dollars were spent.

Findings also suggested the program had little success at the elementary level. For grades 2 through through 5, the analysis “found no evidence that one intervention model was associated with larger student achievement gains than another,” the report reads.


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