Overall, across all grades, we found that implementing any SIG-funded model had no significant impacts on math or reading test scores, high school graduation, or college enrollment.
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The SIG program aimed to support the implementation of school intervention models in low-performing schools. Although SIG was first authorized in 2001, this evaluation focused on SIG awards granted in 2010, when roughly $3.5 billion in SIG awards were made to 50 states and the District of Columbia, $3 billion of which came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. States identified the low-performing schools eligible for SIG based on criteria specified by ED and then held competitions for local education agencies seeking funding to help turn around eligible schools.No doubt the Keynesian spending stimulus was crackerjack, but funneling resources to the schools that are failing the most egregiously, while merciful to the struggling schools, doesn't seem to be very merciful to the kids trapped there. Maybe rewarding failure gets you more failure. It's interesting that the money ostensibly was spent on a variety of techniques associated with change and reform. Something tells me they were reforming the wrong things.
There's a lot of gobbledegook about "comprehensive instructional reform strategies, teacher and principal effectiveness, and operational flexibility and support," but it's not obvious to me what really changed in the schools that got the money.
One goal of SIG is to promote the use of instructional practices that have the potential to increase academic rigor and student achievement. The SIG application criteria focused on practices to reform instruction in seven subtopics: (1) Using Data to Identify and Implement an Instructional Program; (2) Promoting the Continuous Use of Data to Identify and Address the Needs of Individual Students; (3) Conducting Periodic Reviews of the Curriculum; (4) Implementing a New School Model; (5) Providing Supports and Professional Development (PD) to Staff to Assist Both English language learners (ELLs) and Students with Disabilities; (6) Using and Integrating Technology-Based Supports; and (7) Tailoring Strategies for Secondary Schools. We collected data on five of these subtopics through school survey questions that asked about eight practices aligned with SIG objectives in these areas (Table IV.1). Because none of the questions from the school surveys aligned with the third or fourth subtopic, we excluded these subtopics from the analysis.What I'd love to see is a study of contrasting schools with differing percentages of graduates of teaching colleges versus practically any other background, and taking into account the school's freedom to remove incurably disruptive students from the classroom or even from the school. I'm afraid many of these radical "turnaround" and "transformation" models were only pushing the food around on the plate.