New Study Raises Concerns About Changes to School Improvement Grants

POLITICO Pro reports that a study recently found that out of a dozen schools that received School Improvement Grants (SIG) from 2010-11 to 2012-13, most of the teachers in seven schools felt their schools made improvements during the grant period. However, only two of the 12 schools appear to be able to sustain those improvements in the long run.

The study was led by the American Institutes for Research and Mathematical Policy Research for the Institute of Education Sciences and found many alarming reports. Four of the schools had weak prospects for sustainability and six of the schools had mixed prospects for sustainability. The biggest concern for teachers was the ability to recruit strong staff and leaders after millions of dollars in SIG funding ran out.

“There have been many hypotheses about what variables might lead to sustained improvement, from the amount of the grant to the type of intervention model used,” said Kerstin Le Floch, a managing researcher at AIR. “But these variables appear to have had little effect on the schools studied. Overwhelmingly, the biggest risk factors were related to human capital. Teachers at these schools expressed fears over losing staff and impending changes in school leadership.”

Additionally, the study found that good leadership was very significant when schools make improvements under the grant, which is consistent with other studies. Principals have a very important role during this process.