The Success for All Foundation closely monitors the changes in federal policy that will have an impact on the use of research-proven programs in schools. Currently, two key programs are poised to create dramatic changes in the field in which we work.
School Improvement Grants are available for schools that score in the lowest 5% on their state tests. Until now, schools have had to use SIG funds in one of four models: Transformation, Turnaround, Closure, and Restart. However, in new draft regulations, issued on 9/9/2014 [link to regs], three new models are available. One of these allows schools to adopt proven, whole-school reform model, while keeping current staff in place. We are confident that schools will be able to adopt Success for All using this model (the Department will announce which programs are eligible in the coming months).
The new whole-school model requires that schools adopt a program that has been successfully evaluated in at least two studies that meet tough What Works Clearinghouse standards. The programs also must serve every child, and must attend to issues such as teaching and learning, school leadership, student non-academic supports, and family and community engagement.
Importantly, schools choosing this option do not need to fire their principal or do other things that SIG requires in its four original models, or two other new ones.
The landmark $650 million Investing in Innovation fund (i3) that came about as a result of the economic stimulus fund will transform the field of effective turnaround choices for schools. This new program appropriately makes modest investments in the newest untested ideas while making dramatic investments to scale up programs that have a strong track record of effectiveness. By developing, validating, and scaling up effective programs, schools will no longer have to choose from a very limited pool of proven programs. Instead, school-improvement options will be ripe with choices that will best fit different schools.
This program was created as a one-time investment. As Congress prepares to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), SFAF has expressed support for the continuation of this program at a more modest level of $200 million. The continued existence of the i3 program will drive the school-improvement community toward a culture of evidence instead of a culture of trends.
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