US DOE awards Georgia $17.2 million for low performing schools

From US Department of Education:

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that Georgia will receive $17.2 million to turn around its persistently lowest achieving schools through the Education Department’s School Improvement Grant  program. Georgia is one of 13 states that will receive SIG funding.

Six of the states, including Georgia, will receive awards to run a new competition for previously unfunded schools, and six states will receive continuation funds for the third year of implementing a SIG model.

Along with Georgia, the states receiving new awards are: Illinois—$22.2 million; Kansas—$4 million; Massachusetts—$7.2 million; Nevada—$3.8 million and North Carolina—$14.3 million. The seven states receiving continuation awards are: Arkansas—$5.3 million; Delaware—$1.4 million; Florida—$26.8 million; Montana—$1.5 million; New Jersey—$10.4 million; Oregon—$5.4 million; and Washington—$7.8 million.

“When schools fail, our children and our neighborhoods suffer,” Duncan said. “Turning around our lowest-performing schools is hard work but it’s our responsibility. We owe it to our children, their families and the broader community. These School Improvement Grants are helping some of the lowest-achieving schools provide a better education for students who need it the most.”

Grants are awarded to state educational agencies (SEAs) that then make competitive subgrants to local educational agencies (LEAs) that demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to use them to provide adequate resources, in order to substantially raise student achievement in their lowest-performing schools.

Under the Obama administration, the SIG program has invested up to $2 million per school at more than 1,300 of the country’s lowest-performing schools. Early findings show positive momentum and progress in many SIG schools. Findings also show that many schools receiving SIG grants are improving, and some of the greatest gains have been in small towns and rural communities.

47 comments Add your comment

Dekalbmom

April 8th, 2013
11:16 am

Because we do such a great job managing the money we have.

concernedmom30329

April 8th, 2013
11:28 am

Memo to GA DOE — If DCSS gets any of these grants, please make sure that there is value in what they propose. They have consistently used school turnaround grants to take the path of least resistance. The feds have spent millions on Clarkston and McNair Highs and their pass rates on the High School graduation rate (with the exception of science) have actually dropped, in some cases significantly.

NW GA Math/Science Teacher

April 8th, 2013
11:29 am

What’s the current status of the previous SIG schools? This says GA got the grant for previously unfunded. The others dropping off then?

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

April 8th, 2013
11:36 am

The improvement is not in knowledge but using the affective, life skills and soft skills, Whole Child emphasis. Then equity arguments and the way this DOE is misrepresenting the Civil Rights laws under Opportunity to Learn get used to insist that all suburban schools must be using the same model.

And then no one gets to know much of anything. Accurate that is. Lots of students will have no idea that traditionally there was a distinction among facts, beliefs, and feelings. Which will be more equitable. In an everyone in the gutter sort of way.

I was working on some of the reports over the weekend from the Global Cities Education Network and Chinese and Koreans are trying to figure out how to prevent the affluent parents from getting out of school tutoring for the kids.

No One Left Behind but No One Gets Ahead Either. Global Mind Arson is what we are looking at. Somehow I just do not think the Chinese are really going to let their best minds sit bored or tutoring the less adept. And they will take us to the cleaners for making “continuous improvement” about politically desired personality traits.

Mountain Man

April 8th, 2013
11:40 am

Fanastic! We can now pay our superintendents more, hire more high-paid central office secretaries, and buy more SUCCESS FOR ALL programs. (We will have to continue with teacher furloughs, though, and up our class sizes.)

Bernie

April 8th, 2013
11:43 am

Will be interesting to see how these SIG funds are dispersed and utililzed by the individual school systems and schools that are selected.

Maureen, if you and/or your staff would be able to provide some follow up
DATA, in regards to the money trail and its applied uses, would be helpful to the intended Schools and Parents. This would be most helpful, especially as relates to APS.

Private Citizen

April 8th, 2013
11:47 am

“Award” for low performance, is there another word? Funding, appropriation, augmentation, support? $17.2 million to the state is like a drop of water into Lake Lanier. I wonder what they want in return and the cost of what is wanted in return.

CJae of EAV

April 8th, 2013
11:54 am

So the federal Dept of Edu is going to give 17 million + to the GA DOE, who will then distributed to “low performing districts with the greatest need”, or at least that’s the line at the press conference.

Why do I feel like a significant portion of these funds will end up in Gwinnett County simular to the state equalization grant money that was supposed to go to poor rural counties ??

Follow the bouncing ball on this one people.

Mary Elizabeth

April 8th, 2013
12:10 pm

Maureen, I have been hoping that you would post your wonderful Sunday column (4/7/13) on today’s “Get Schooled” blog. You had written that column for the AJC’s Editorial Board. It was entitled “The fate of the children,” and the highlighted words immediately following that column’s title were: “The indictment of 35 former APS employees leaves their future to the courts. It’s now up to the rest of us to determine how best to educate at-risk children in the wake of the cheating scandal.”

I want to highlight one paragraph from that column which I believe will help, especially, the “country’s lowest performing schools” to achieve better results.
===================================================

From Sunday’s Editorial in the AJC, written by Maureen Downey for the AJC’s Editorial Board:

“Research suggests that while standards should be even higher than they are now, it’s a mistake to expect that every student will reach the same level of proficiency at the same time. What’s more important than measuring absolute performance across schools is measuring steady growth in individual students.”
======================================================

BRAVA! and BRAVO! to you and to the AJC’s Editorial Board for publishing those profound words of educational principles which will, if implemented, insure the continued – and authentic – improvement of at-risk children’s academic standings, and will, also, in time, insure the improvement in the overall test results for the schools which will follow this educational model, i.e., monitoring the academic progress of individual students over time.

gt forever

April 8th, 2013
12:18 pm

This is great. This means the poorer my job performance, the greater my salary. For some reason I thought it was the other way around.

Maureen Downey

April 8th, 2013
12:20 pm

@Mary Elizabeth, I didn’t post the Sunday editorial I wrote because I have shared some of those points on the blog in various bits and pieces. (Nor did I post my Monday print column today because most of it has already has been on the blog.)
Maureen

williebkind

April 8th, 2013
12:23 pm

What is an at-risk child? What future looms before them that they can not achieve by other means than k12 schools? Yep sounds like Ga is rewarding failure. Make school voluntary and watch minds grow.

Mary Elizabeth

April 8th, 2013
12:40 pm

@ Maureen, 12:20 pm

I can certainly understand your reasoning, Maureen. Your Sunday column for the Editorial Board was quite outstanding, in my opinion, and the substance of the thoughts, therein, will be most beneficial to the children in Georgia. I thank you for that column, in their behalf.

Perhaps, Sunday’s editorial, “The fate of the children,” will be published online in the “Atlanta Forward” blog. I do hope so. A column of that much insight and depth needs full exposure, imho.

Thurston Howell IV

April 8th, 2013
1:07 pm

$17 Million may sound like a lot , but let’s be realistic- It’s not going to go that far,considering the scope of the problem. In fact, a lot of it will most likely be wasted trying to decide where what’s left of it goes.

RCB

April 8th, 2013
1:32 pm

Yet more money supplied to a failing model. When will we group by ability and current achievement status of each student? It can’t be soon enough if you want to retain the good students.

jerry eads

April 8th, 2013
2:12 pm

M.E., took me a long time to get around to signing on, but I went and found Maureen’s Sunday piece on the myajc site after seeing it Sunday. And yes, she did good :-) .

On Arnie & Co. – several of you note worthy concerns – most of the bux seem to keep going to the places that indeed may use it well but need it a WHOLE lot less than the folks up in the mountains and out in the plains. Would be nice to see it go to some of the places that hardly have any more than mobile homes to tax.

We should all take to heart Kohn’s perspective Maureen cited Sunday:
“Kohn sees two key lessons in the Atlanta scandal: ‘The problem here wasn’t just the illegal and immoral behavior of a few individuals, but an absurd system of top-down, heavy-handed, test-based accountability, which is why cheating scandals have been popping up all over the country for as long as we’ve had high-stakes testing. And even if the Hall administration had raised the scores without cheating, Atlanta schoolchildren were still cheated out of a real education because the schools were turned into glorified test-prep centers.’”

The awards are based almost entirely on performance on those tests.

NW GA Math/Science Teacher

April 8th, 2013
2:16 pm

@ RCB: When? When they get to college. At least for now…

Mary Elizabeth

April 8th, 2013
3:21 pm

@ jerry eads, 2:12 pm

“. . . I went and found Maureen’s Sunday piece on the myajc site after seeing it Sunday. And yes, she did good.”
=================================================

Thanks for that tip, Jerry. I will look for Maureen’s Sunday column at http://www.myajc.com. I appreciate your informing me (and others) about this.

Private Citizen

April 8th, 2013
3:22 pm

It would sure be interesting to be a snail on the back of this money and see where it goes.

Mary Elizabeth

April 8th, 2013
4:10 pm

From Maureen Downey’s Sunday column, as Jerry Eads first posted at 2:12 pm:
—————————————————————-

“The problem here wasn’t just the illegal and immoral behavior of a few individuals, but an absurd system of top-down, heavy-handed, test-based accountability, which is why cheating scandals have been popping up all over the country for as long as we’ve had high-stakes testing. And even if the Hall administration had raised the scores without cheating, Atlanta schoolchildren were still cheated out of a real education because the schools were turned into glorified test-prep centers.’”
————————————————–

In my opinion, the above quote from Maureen Downey’s Sunday column reflects an ineffective BUSINESS MODEL in education because the emphasis is upon the overall achievement of an unrealistic end-product by all students at the same point in time in “high-stakes testing,” achieved by an out-of-balance, intense pacing for all students irrespective of what individual students can realistically absorb at that rapid pace. The purpose for that type of “high stakes” testing and instructional approaches is for teachers, schools, school systems, or nations to out perform their counterparts competitively, and without regard to the individual variances in the actual pacing needs of individual students toward academic goals. As Maureen Downey’s Sunday column also stated, “Slow and steady was allegedly not enough for Hall, who, according to the indictment, ‘placed unreasonable emphasis on achieveing targets, protected and rewarded those who achieved targets through cheating. . .and ignored suspicious CRCT gains.’ ”

On the other hand, an effective EDUCATIONAL MODEL for testing accountability and instructional approaches and programs in schools can be found in the following words from Maureen Downey’s Sunday column in the AJC:

“Research suggests that while standards should be even higher than they are now, it’s a mistake to expect that every student will reach the same level of proficiency at the same time. What’s more important than measuring absolute performance across schools is measuring steady growth in individual students.”

The irony is that when schools and school systems recognize that “it’s a mistake to expect that every student will reach the same level of proficiency at the same time,” and implement instructional approaches and programs that will address students’ individual instructional needs more effectively, those schools and school systems will ALSO see an authentic rise in their schools’/school systems’ standardized test results over time, because their students correct instructional needs will have been authentically met at every point in time.

This one sentence from Maureen Downey’s Sunday column must be highlighed as the central sentence of her column which will help all students and all school systems to achieve continuing academic improvement. It is based on an educational model (and upon researched educational principles), and not upon a business model, for education:
===================================================

“WHAT’S MORE IMPORTANT THAN MEASURING ABSOLUTE PERFORMANCE ACROSS SCHOOLS IS MEASURING STEADY GROWTH IN INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS.”
===================================================

I hope that Georgia’s School Superintendents, Georgia’s State Board of Education, Georgia’s Legislators, and the U. S. Department of Education, under Secretary Arne Duncan, will reflect upon that key sentence and will, thereafter, alter their present standardized testing policies to reflect the educational soundness of Maureen Downey’s few, succintly stated, but profound words from her Sunday editorial.

Finallly, I wish to post Maureen Downey’s final words in her Sunday editorial, written for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Editorial Board:

“The fate of the children of APS rests with the community – parents, educators, and policymakers – and its willingness to demand learning-centered classrooms for its most vulnerable children rather than mind numbing worksheets.”

Mary Elizabeth

April 8th, 2013
4:46 pm

For all readers -

Below is the direct link to Maureen Downey’s outstanding editorial, for the Editorial Board, in Sunday’s (4/07/13) Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

http://www.myajc.com/news/news/opinion/the-fate-of-the-children/nXCpD/

Pride and Joy

April 8th, 2013
4:58 pm

Why don’t we reward the high-performing schools so they can grow and expand?
Rewarding low performance only produces more of the same.

Pride and Joy

April 8th, 2013
5:01 pm

Very well said “It would sure be interesting to be a snail on the back of this money and see where it goes.
The snail CAM — WE NEED IT.

Private Citizen

April 8th, 2013
5:27 pm

Thank you, ME.

This sprinkling around of money from the fed seems like when a mafia don passes out some $100 bills to the chore-group for recognition and encouragement, validating membership. It just seems weird.

Private Citizen

April 8th, 2013
5:32 pm

“funds… to use… to provide adequate resources”

I would sure like to know the specifics of what resources are purchased, and how the transfer percentage occurs. It would nice to see some invoices and what they go for. I am affeared this money will go to pay personnel who practice “training,” schedule meetings for teachers to attend and tell what to do. Is there any communication re: how the money is spent or applied? Documentation, invoices, receipts? Anything?

Private Citizen

April 8th, 2013
5:33 pm

Do each of the state recipients apply the money differently?

Beverly Fraud

April 8th, 2013
6:03 pm

I’ve yet to see a really effective rebuttal to the point of view espoused by Invisible Serf.

And that is indeed scary in its implications for education and our world.

Private Citizen

April 8th, 2013
6:03 pm

In the editorial, “fueled the belief that inner city students can’t meet high standards…”

I’ve never had the slightest doubt that urban children, or any children, can not perform well. However, this means giving the teacher the authority to teach them, to make them accountable, and to not distract the teacher’s time, focus, and energy with undue or excessive paperwork, and demands that are distracting to the mission of the teacher, and often in conflict with getting the kids to learn and demonstrate learning. The sole way a student learns mastery or curriculum is through the focused work of a capable teacher. Distract the teacher is non-essential, if not numerous non-essential tasks and duties, and this subverts the students’ development. Tell the teacher “how to teach” and it is essentially “game over.” Capable teachers have innate methods and style peculiar to each teacher. Interlopers in the classroom are highly destructive to a teacher’s sense of method and identity. There is no problem, whatsoever, with the potential or abilities of students.

Private Citizen

April 8th, 2013
6:04 pm

I’ve never had the slightest doubt that urban children, or any children, can not perform well.

Did I say that right? Inferred meaning is that the can perform great.

Mary Elizabeth

April 8th, 2013
6:23 pm

You’re most welcome, PC.

Charles Douglas Edwards

April 8th, 2013
6:33 pm

THANKS to the United States Department of Education !!!

These additional resources will allow the state to be more effective and creative in uplifting low achieving schools in Georgia.

Thanks to President Obama and Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan.

Mary Elizabeth

April 8th, 2013
7:32 pm

@ Charles Douglas Edwards, 6:33 pm

Charles Douglas, thank you for stating your gratitude to President Obama and to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in your post. I agree with you and I, also, want to thank President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan “for these additional resources (that) will allow the state to be more effective and creative in uplifting low achieving schools in Georgia,” as well as to thank both of these outstanding leaders for their ongoing emphasis upon improving education throughout the United States. I believe that improving education, for all students, is the primary Civil Rights issue of today.

However, as I stated in my 4:10 p.m. post, I also hope that Secretary Duncan will adjust the U.S. Department of Education’s test assessment policies can be altered to reflect, as Maureen Downey so astutely expressed in her Sunday editorial (4/07/13) for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Editorial Board: “Research suggests that while standards should be even higher than they are now, it’s a mistake to expect that every student will reach the same level of proficiency at the same time. What’s more improtant than measuring absolute performance across schools is measuring steady growth in individual students.”

I, also, hope that Secretary Duncan will continue to find multi-faceted ways in which to assess teachers rather than to assess teachers primarily on the basis of their students’ increases in their standardized test scores. A student with a low IQ (within any race, ethnic, or socioeconomic group) may do well to advance only seven (7) months in a year’s time as reflected in his/her standardized test scores; whereas, a student with a high IQ may be falling short to advance only a year in a year’s time. The reasons for students’ varying score results on standardized tests are multi-faceted, including other factors beyond simply IQ ranges. The assessment instruments which are used to assess teachers and schools by the U.S. DOE – as well those test instruments used by each state’s DOE – should, therefore, also be multi-faceted, in design, to have validity.

Mary Elizabeth

April 8th, 2013
7:35 pm

CORRECTION: The last words in my post, above, at 7:32 pm should have been “. . .to have complete and comprehensive validity.”

Charles Douglas Edwards

April 8th, 2013
7:39 pm

THANK you Mary Elizabeth !!!

Mary Elizabeth

April 8th, 2013
9:01 pm

@ Charles Doughlas Edwards, 7:39 pm

:-)

Mary Elizabeth

April 8th, 2013
9:42 pm

Sorry CDE – Your name should have been correctly typed, “Douglas.”

jerry eads

April 8th, 2013
10:33 pm

Not many of us on this one, sigh. But well said, everyone.

M.E., I’m ecstatic that GA is attempting to move to a growth model. It’s taken 3+ decades to get this across to policymakers who for the most part have no understanding of teaching and learning, and even less of the (lack of) capabilities of current testing technology. Including, obviously, Arnie.

Sadly, apparently DOE is being forced by Arnie and Co. to try to do a growth model with the existing minimum competency tests until the PARCC tests come along. It is not possible to make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear, but we can’t be slowed down by reality.

Worse, they’re forced to weight these useless tests 70% (I think it is) of the ratings schema. We’ll get random numbers out of this, especially for teachers of higher performing students.

AND, of course, the current tests attempt to measure the old factoid recall standards while we’re telling teachers to start learning how to teach the Common Core.

My guess is what we really need to do is contract a goodly number of therapists to work with the teachers who have to try to work within this schizophrenia.

jerry eads

April 8th, 2013
10:43 pm

PS – M.E., nice job of explaining variable learning capacity.

THE problem with thinking in terms of “standards” rather than curriculum is that we think in terms of minimum competencies rather than growth. “Standards” are great for fitting car doors to fenders on an assembly line. Kids aren’t one size fits all. (However, I have no hope whatsoever that we’ll escape our factory schooling model.)

Thankfully, the Common Core was developed by people who actually understood curriculum development – a highly complex expertise that totally escaped those in many states who developed “standards.”

Of course, one of the problems we DO have, which is the ONE thing Nickleby addressed successfully, is that we tend to underestimate the capacity of lower performing students. A growth model should help that, too.

Mary Elizabeth

April 8th, 2013
10:50 pm

@ jerry eads, 10:33 pm

Thanks for a few good laughs late in the evening! I mean that sincerely!
Especially this line. . .

“. . .but we can’t be slowed down by reality.” :-) Best line in your post!

And, your last sentence was especially funny, also, as well as sadly true, I’m afraid!

Mary Elizabeth

April 8th, 2013
11:04 pm

jerry eads, 10:43 pm

Your post is excellent, and analyzed in depth, regarding educational problems. I believe, however, if enough people speak up, who have had decades of experience in education, that there is hope that we can escape “our factory schooling model.”

And, I agree with you that “we tend to underestimate the capacity of lower performing students. A growth model should help that, too.” The first step in fostering that growth model for lower performing students is to make certain that they are instructed where they are actually functioning – at every step of the curriculum continuum – irrespective of their grade level placement – and that their pacing through concepts correlates with their abilities, individually, to absorb those concepts. That is education “reality.”

Btw, what made your 10:33 pm post give me a few heartfelt chuckles was the slightly bitter irony within your remarks. Remember, though, that “hope springs eternal,” especially where the lives of our young are involved.

Private Citizen

April 9th, 2013
9:36 am

Those of you thanking Arne Duncan might want to read this teacher resignation letter from Syracuse, New York re: loss of time for meaningful activity, “a constant need to “prove up,” and “rapid decaying of morale.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/06/teachers-resignation-letter-my-profession-no-longer-exists/

Private Citizen

April 9th, 2013
9:46 am

from the link comments:
I left teaching when my district began punishing teachers who refused to put the rigid conformity of standardized instruction above the demonstrated needs of individual students, as indicated by actual test scores. I left after my administrator informed me that my subject knowledge was unimportant, and that the only thing of real importance was my ability to follow his directives to the letter

Welcome to the world of Arne Duncan. “Thank you” is not what comes to mind.

Mary Elizabeth

April 9th, 2013
11:09 am

Private Citizen, 9:36 am and 9:46 am

Private Citizen, I continue to compliment the President and his Secretary of Education for, at least, placing a priority upon educational improvement in our nation, equal to, or more important than, other national needs in America. I do, however, believe that feedback must continue to be delivered to Secretary Duncan that “rigid conformity of standardized instruction above the demonstrated needs of individual students, as indicated by actual test scores” must be changed to address the needs of individual students. I have written of this often.

Secretary Duncan has already altered some of President Obama’s “Race to the Top” policies because of the public’s and educators’ feedback to him and to the President. I believe that given even more feedback, Secretary Duncan and President Obama will adjust this policy even more to help make the classroom experience one that is more conducive to addressing the realistic individualized needs of students in a nurturing, not threatening, environment. I believe that Secretary Duncan and President Obama truly care about America’s young, America’s teachers, and the improvement of education in America. They simply need more feedback on what is both humane and effective, in what they are attempting to implement, and what is not. However, I am glad that one of their main national priorities is education.

DoubleW1

April 9th, 2013
11:57 am

WOW, we just keep finding real innovative ways to throw our tax dollars away. Eh, it’s no big deal, just print some more. If push comes to shove, we’ll just quit paying the interest to the SS Trust Fund and the Federal Reserve. Of course, that’s gonna reduce SS Payments to seniors and that’s when the proverbial %^$&*’s gonna hit the fan. Folks, something’s gotta give, we cannot keep spending more than we bring in. Even you dyed in the wool liberals must be able to understand that. If you must give Georgia $17.2M, please ensure that every penny is accounted for and is spent in a way that contributes to educating a child properly. If not, most of it will be spent on administrative expenses, i. e., raises, seminars, lavish offices, etc.

Private Citizen

April 9th, 2013
12:38 pm

The politician he say what you want to hear
It’s here one day and right out the other ear
He promise you whiskey and won’t even give you a beer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdWkNGdgp6g#t=1m50s

Southern Charm

April 9th, 2013
7:44 pm

Exactly what we need. Spending more money will make parents more responsible. They will now care about their kids’ education instead of looking for new ways to get money for crack.

AnonMom

April 10th, 2013
9:53 pm

Makes sense to me… take money from the local taxpayer — send it to DC — go into trillion dollar deficits, owe funds to china, redistribute it out (any political favoritism anywhere?) to the states with lots of beaurocracy in-between so we fund some salaries and send it back to the states …. this has been working really well so it should continue. Oh, also, we should note for the record that there is really no accounting (note not accountability since there’s all the talk of test scores) – I’m talking actual accounting of the dollars as the go in and out of the systems….. Let’s keep it going — I think this is much better than keeping and using all of the money at the state and local level.