Will Delaware Continue Demanding Excellence?
School Improvement Grant (SIG) applications are due to the Delaware Department of Education (DOE) by April 14th. SIG funds are federal pass-through dollars allocated for the lowest-performing schools based on the rigor of districts’ applications.
Delaware has $8.86 million dollars in SIG funds for the 2011-2012 school year. In order to be eligible, schools must be identified as persistently low-performing by the state based on three criteria: (1) the school’s proficiency on DCAS, (2) the lack of student progress over three years on DCAS, and (3) the school’s three year graduation rate. Based on these measures, the Department of Education identified eligible schools to receive SIG funds.
- awarded to 2011 SIG applicants;
- awarded to schools not chosen to participate in the 2011 Partnership Zone cohort; and/or
- carried over to 2012 to be distributed to 2012 Partnership Zone schools.
DOE has demonstrated that they will demand excellence in school turnaround efforts; for example, in the 2010-11 SIG awards, they funded only two applicants and rolled-over 69% of last year’s funds (one of the largest carry-over percentages among all states). Several factors in play are impacting districts’ and schools’ assessments of their likelihood of receiving 2011-12 and 2012-13 funding: (1) the high bar set by DOE, (2) anticipation of 2011 year-end DCAS results, and (3) the amount available given the reduction in stimulus funding once allocated to SIG. And their assessments are impacting planning for their initiatives for next year. For example, some schools are anticipating receiving funds, and others are not, but are already considering funding alternatives might be available.
By setting the bar high, DOE has pushed districts and schools to go further and faster where incremental efforts simply won’t cut it anymore; we are optimistic that these standards will be continued and even raised further as we learn from past efforts and others’ best practices.