More On Schools: Your Questions Answered

11 Jun 2010 | Jennifer Kennedy, Consultant

During the Promise Neighborhoods Institute webinar on June 3rd, participants asked me and the other speakers a number of great questions on the involvement of schools in the application process. I am contributing to the PNI blog to help to answer those questions.

Each day I will post one of your questions and my answer to that question – please feel free to comment or ask additional clarifying questions using the comment function below. You can also continue to send your questions to promiseneighborhoods@policylink.org.

In addition, below today’s question and answer you will find some basic information as written by the Department of Education in the NIA to clarify some further details. For a broader context on Race to the Top and other federal education policy element, please check out the Promise Neighborhoods Institute website’s Education Primer.

Question #1:  Does it matter if the school district’s decision to turnaround a school was decided locally or does it have to be state mandated?  In other words, if the local school district was proactive in turning around a school before the state mandated it, does this qualify as a turnaround for purposes of the PN application?

If you are working with a “persistently lowest-performing school” (see definition in PNI guidelines and glossary), then, yes, you must use one of the four intervention models that have been identified by the federal government and are now mandated by the state.

If you are working with a “low-performing school” (again, see definition), you have a choice in using one of the four intervention models or “another model of sufficient ambition, rigor, and comprehensiveness to significantly improve academic and other outcomes for students, with elements that address the effectiveness of teachers and leaders and the school’s use of time and resources, including increased learning time (as defined in the notice.”  [Federal Register, Vol 75, No 86, May 5, 2010, Notice, p. 24674, column 1)

Here is language from the NIA from the Department of Education site around schools and Race to the Top (see NIA, page 9, a (i), (ii) and (iii)):

“The core component of the applicant’s proposed continuum of solutions must be a strategy, or a plan to develop a strategy, to–

(a) (i) Significantly improve one or more persistently lowest-achieving schools (as defined in this notice) in the neighborhood by implementing one of the four school intervention models (turnaround model, restart model, school closure, or transformation model) described in Appendix C of the Race to the Top Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for FY 2010, 74 FR 59836, 59866 (November 18, 2009);

(ii) Significantly improve one or more low-performing schools in the neighborhood that isnot also a persistently lowest-achieving school, by implementing ambitious, rigorous, and comprehensive interventions to assist, augment, or replace schools, which may include implementing one of the four school intervention models (turnaround model, restart model, school closure, or transformation model) described in Appendix C of the Race to the Top Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for FY 2010, 74 FR 59836, 59866 (November 18, 2009), or may include another model of sufficient ambition, rigor, and comprehensiveness to significantly improve academic and other outcomes for students, with elements that include addressing the effectiveness of teachers and leaders and the school’s use of time and resources, including increased learning time (as defined in the notice); or

(iii) Support and sustain one or more effective schools (as defined in this notice) in the neighborhood by providing academic programs in a manner that significantly enhances and expands current efforts to improve the academic outcomes of the children in the neighborhood.”

Check back Monday for Question 2!