This week, we released an essay written by our Senior Field Consultant, Larry Stanton. The essay, titled “Doing It Your Way: Building a Strong SEA SIG Application,” focuses on the recently released updated School Improvement Grant (SIG) rules. State education agencies (SEAs) have until April 15, 2015, to submit their updated applications to the federal government. See below for a snippet of the essay, which provides advice for SEAs on these applications gleaned from four years of work with SEAs, and click here to read the full essay!
State education agency (SEA) leaders can no longer complain that the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) transformation model is too easy and the turnaround and restart models are too hard. In February 2015, with some prodding from Congress, USDOE responded to complaints about the models by essentially saying, “OK, do it your way.” By adding a planning year, inviting states to propose a state-determined model, extending the maximum grant term to five years and encouraging more local education agency (LEA) involvement in SIG schools, USDOE is giving SEAs the opportunity to describe “their way” in their applications for Sec. 1003(g) School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding due on April 15th.
This opportunity raises a handful of questions for SEAs: What should they be thinking about as they build their applications for SIG funding to USDOE? Should we develop a state-determined model? What should happen during a planning year? How do we get schools and LEAs to choose a model aligned with school needs? Based on our experience working on school improvement with 15 SEAs over the past four years, we encourage states to consider the following ideas contained in this essay.