Virginia Department of Education Office of Program Administration and Accountability and Office of School Improvement



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Virginia Department of Education

Office of Program Administration and Accountability and

Office of School Improvement

P.O. Box 2120

Richmond, Virginia 23218-2120
Guidelines for School Improvement Grant Application

Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Public Law 107-110


Background
I. Purpose of the Program

School Improvement Grants (SIG), authorized under Section 1003(g) of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), are grants, through state educational agencies (SEAs), to local educational agencies (LEAs) for use in Title I schools in Title I School Improvement or Title I eligible schools that are identified as the persistently lowest-achieving schools. A list of eligible schools is included in Appendix C. The schools must also demonstrate a need for the funds and a commitment to use the funds to implement and sustain a school improvement reform effort to increase substantially the achievement of their students.


II. Identification of Eligible Schools

The United States Department of Education (USED) guidelines require state agencies to identify schools eligible for SIG funds in three tiers (Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III). State agencies are required to apply their definition of persistently lowest-achieving schools to the identification of Tier I and Tier II schools eligible for SIG funds. Below is Virginia’s definition of persistently lowest-achieving schools that was approved by USED:




  1. A Title I school in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that is among the lowest-achieving five percent of Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring based on the academic achievement of the “all students” group in reading/language arts and mathematics combined and the school has not reduced its failure rate in reading/language arts and/or mathematics by 10 to 15 percent each year for the past two years (Tier I); or

  2. A secondary school that is eligible for, but does not receive, Title I funds that is among the lowest-achieving five percent of schools based on the academic achievement of the “all students” group in reading/language arts and mathematics combined and the school has not reduced its failure rate in reading/language arts and/or mathematics by 10 to 15 percent each year for the past two years (Tier II); or

  3. A high school that has had a graduation rate as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b) that is less than 60 percent for the past two consecutive years (Tier II).   

Federal guidelines for the identification of schools eligible for SIG funds require that Title I secondary schools in improvement with a graduation rate as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b) that is less than 60 percent be included in Tier I; however, Virginia does not have any schools that meet this criterion. Title I schools in school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that do not meet the criteria to be identified as Tier I schools are included in Tier III.


The chart below reflects the application of the definition to determine the list of eligible schools based on the January 15, 2010, letter from the USED Secretary of Education and accompanying USED Guidance on School Improvement Grants, November 1, 2010.





Schools that MUST be Identified

Newly Eligible Schools

Excluded Schools

Column 1

Column 2

Column 3

Tier I

A Title I school in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that is among the lowest-achieving five percent of Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring based on the academic achievement of the “all students” group in reading/language arts and mathematics combined and the school has not reduced its failure rate in reading/language arts and/or mathematics by 10 to 15 percent each year for the past two years.*


None.

Any school that was previously identified as a Tier I or Tier II school and in which an LEA is implementing one of the four interventions using funds made available under Section 1003(g) of the ESEA.

Tier II

A secondary school that is eligible for, but does not receive, Title I funds that is among the lowest achieving five percent of schools based on the academic achievement of the “all students” group in reading/language arts and mathematics combined and the school has not reduced its failure rate in reading/language arts and/or mathematics by 10 to 15 percent each year for the past two years; or a high school that has had a graduation rate as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b) that is less than 60 percent for two years.


None.


Any school that was previously identified as a Tier I or Tier II school and in which an LEA is implementing one of the four interventions using funds made available under Section 1003(g) of the ESEA.



Tier III

Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that are in Years 1-8 of Title I School Improvement that are not in Tier I.

None.

Any school that was previously identified as a Tier I or Tier II school and in which an LEA is implementing one of the four interventions using funds made available under Section 1003(g) of the ESEA. Also excluded are Title I eligible schools that are not in Tier I or Tier II and are in the bottom 20 percent of all schools in the state based on proficiency rates.
*Federal guidelines for the identification of schools eligible for SIG funds require that Title I secondary schools in improvement with a graduation rate as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b) that is less than 60 percent over several years be included in Tier I. Virginia does not have any schools that meet this criterion.
III. Implementation Requirements

Tier I and Tier II schools must implement one of the four models listed below:



  • Turnaround

  • Restart

  • School Closure

  • Transformation

The Turnaround and Restart models require that the LEA choose a Lead Turnaround Partner (LTP). To assist school divisions with recruiting, screening, and selecting external providers, if applicable, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) conducted a Request for Proposals for Lead Turnaround Partners (LTPs). On April 13, 2010, VDOE publicly posted the award to four independent contractors; Cambridge Education, Edison Learning, Inc., John Hopkins University, and Pearson. School divisions may select an LTP from the competitively awarded contract list or they may choose to initiate their own competitive process. The benefit of selecting a provider from the VDOE contract list is that the competition has already taken place and a school division will not have to delay the implementation of the work with the LTP by awaiting results from their own competitive process. Specific information such as contract number and pricing about each awarded contractor is posted on the VDOE Web site. The link below provides the request for proposal for the selection of the LTPs.


http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/school_improvement/title1/1003_g/tier_1-2/meeting_apr_2010/rfp_low_achieving_schools.pdf
A detailed description of each of the intervention models is provided in Appendix A.

IV. Funding

Funding for implementation of a model is based on several factors including the model chosen and the school’s student enrollment. Grantees must justify the funding requested based on the intervention model chosen for each of three years in the application for funds. A waiver must be requested to extend the award period up to three years. As stipulated in the final USED SIG guidance, divisions may apply for $50,000 to $2,000,000 per school for each year of the grant. The total budget request may not exceed $2,000,000 per school for each year or $6,000,000 per school over three years.


V. Application Submission

  • Applications are due on Friday, June 17, 2011. The application must be submitted to the Department via the Virginia Department of Education’s Single Sign-On for Web Systems (SSWS) DropBox no later than midnight on Friday, June 17, 2011.

  • Applications should be sent to the attention of Marcia Birdsong.

  • In the subject line, indicate the division name and application type (e.g., Portsmouth SIG Application).

  • In the file name, include the division name, application type, and initial year of implementation (e.g., PortsmouthSIGApplication11-12).

(If there is a need for a dropbox user name and password, please contact your SSWS division administrator.)


VI. Required Elements for LEA Applications after Submission

Listed below are the five required actions that an LEA must take after submission of their application for Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2010. Upon approval of the LEA’s application, the state will monitor each LEA’s implementation of its grant to ensure the required elements listed below have been met.




  1. Design and implement the intervention for each school as approved in the LEA’s application.

  2. Recruit, screen, and select external providers, if applicable.

  3. Align other resources with the intervention selected or school improvement strategy selected.

  4. Modify its practices and/or policies to implement the intervention fully and effectively, if necessary.

  5. Sustain the reform efforts after the funding period ends.


Application Instructions

If you need assistance in completing the application, please contact one of the following VDOE staff:



  • Kathleen Smith at (804) 225-2865 or Kathleen.Smith@doe.virginia.gov

  • Veronica Tate at (804) 225-2870 or Veronica.Tate@doe.virginia.gov

  • Janice Pierson at (804) 371-6201 or Janice.Pierson@doe.virginia.gov

  • Becky Marable at (804) 371-0044 or Rebecca.Marable@doe.virginia.gov


Cover Sheet
The application must contain the cover sheet provided that includes the name, address, and contact information for the school division and the schools that will receive support through the SIG funds. The superintendent must certify the application and assure that the funds will be administered and implemented in compliance with the applicable statutes, regulations, policies, and program plans under NCLB.
Section A: Schools to be Served


  1. Identify each Tier I and/or Tier II school that will be served by identifying the school; the NCES identification (ID) number; the identified tier; and the type of intervention model the school will implement.

  2. Identify each Tier III school that will be served by identifying the school; the NCES ID number; the identified tier; and either the type of intervention model or other school improvement strategies the school will implement.


Section B: Required Elements
Part 1: Provide the following information for each of the Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III schools identified.


  1. Student achievement data for the past two years (2008-2009 and 2009-2010) in reading/language arts and mathematics: by school for the “all students” category and for each AYP subgroup; and by grade level in the “all students” category and for each AYP subgroup;

  2. Areas identified for improvement based on analysis of student achievement data;

  3. Number and percentage of highly qualified teachers and teachers with less than three years experience by grade or subject;

  4. Number of years each instructional staff member has been employed at the school;

  5. Information about the graduation rate of the school in the aggregate and by AYP subgroup for all secondary schools;

  6. Information about the demographics of the student population to include total number of students and totals by the following categories: 1) gender; 2) race or ethnicity; 3) disability status; 4) limited English proficient status; 5) migrant status; 6) homeless status; and 7) economically disadvantaged status;

  7. Information about the physical plant of the school facility to include: 1) date built; 2) number of classrooms; 3) description of the library media center; 4) description of cafeteria; and 5) description of areas for physical education and/or recess;

  8. Total number of minutes in the school year that all students were required to attend school and any increased learning time (e.g., before- or afterschool, Saturday school, summer school);

  9. Total number of days teachers worked divided by the maximum number of teacher working days;

  10. Information about the types of technology that are available to students and instructional staff; and

  11. Annual goals for student achievement on the state’s assessments in both reading/language arts and mathematics.

School divisions receiving SIG funds will be required to use the Indistar™ online school improvement planning tool to update and monitor, on a quarterly basis, school improvement plans including the relevant data and annual goals described in Section B.


Part 2: Provide a detailed plan to demonstrate how the interventions will be designed as well as the plan for implementation. Tier I and Tier II schools must implement one of the four intervention models. Tier III schools may implement one of the intervention models or other school improvement strategies.
For each school implementing one of the intervention models, describe the following:

  1. A description of the plan to implement the interventions by the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year.

  2. A description of the plan to regularly engage the school community, with substantial emphasis on parental engagement, to inform members of progress toward the design and implementation of the interventions and to give them opportunity to provide input.

  3. A description of the resources to research and design the selected interventions as intended.

  4. A description of the plan to set aside time and resources sufficient to facilitate the design and ongoing implementation of interventions.

  5. A description of the commitment of key school leaders to attend an SEA sponsored strategic planning session.

  6. A description of the capacity to implement the selected intervention model(s) for each of its Tier I, II, and III schools to be served.

For any Tier III school not implementing one of the intervention models, describe the following:



  1. The services the school will receive or the activities the school will implement; and

  2. The goals the LEA will establish to hold accountable its Tier III schools that receive school improvement grant funds. Examples of activities are included in Appendix B.




  • If the LEA lacks sufficient capacity to serve all of its Tier I schools, the following information must be provided.




  1. Steps taken to secure the support of the local school board for the intervention model selected;

  2. Steps taken to secure the support of the parents and school community for the intervention model selected;

  3. Plans to use SIG funds to hire necessary staff; and

  4. Steps taken to secure assistance from the state or other entity in determining how to ensure sufficient capacity exists to implement the model.


Part 3: Describe the LEA’s commitment to recruit, screen, and select external providers, if applicable. Describe the following:

  1. Reasonable and timely steps taken to recruit, screen, and select providers to be in place by the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year that may include, but are not limited to:

    1. Analyzing the LEA’s operational needs;

    2. Researching and prioritizing the external providers available to serve the school;

    3. Contacting other LEA’s currently or formerly engaged with the external provider regarding their experience;

    4. Engaging parents and community members to assist in the selection process; and

    5. Delineating the responsibilities and expectations to be carried out by the external provider as well as those to be carried out by the LEA.




  1. Detailed and relevant criteria for selecting external providers that take into account the specific needs of the Tier I and/or Tier II schools to be served by external providers. These criteria may include, but are not limited to:

  1. A proven track record of success in working with a particular population or type of school;

  2. Alignment between external provider services and needs of the LEA;

  3. Capacity to and documented success in improving student achievement; and

  4. Capacity to serve the identified school or schools with the selected intervention model.


Part 4: Provide evidence that a review of division and school policies has been completed to ensure alignment with the selected interventions. Evidence will include copies of division meeting agenda and accompanying notes. If changes are needed to existing policies and/or procedures, additional documentation will be requested such as revisions to policy manuals, local board of education meeting minutes, and/or other appropriate division communication.
Part 5: Provide a narrative identifying resources, financial and otherwise, to demonstrate how the reform effort will be sustained after the funding period ends. The LEA’s ability to sustain the reform effort after the funding period ends will be evaluated by considering the following:

  1. Use of the Indistar™ tool by the division and school improvement teams to inform, coach, sustain, track, and report school improvement activities;

  2. Implementation of contract with external provider, if applicable; and

  3. Division plan and budget for sustaining the reform effort.



Section C: Pre-implementation Activities
LEAs may conduct pre-implementation activities to ensure a timely and efficient implementation of interventions in schools funded with SIG funds. Those LEAs conducting pre-implementation activities must describe the local plan for conducting the chosen activities.
Section D: Budget
The LEA must submit the following:


  1. A combined LEA-level budget summary for Tier I, II, and III schools;

  2. A school-level budget detailing expenditures designed to support implementation of the selected school intervention model(s) in each of the LEA’s Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III schools, including a breakdown of LEA and school-level SIG funds as well as other funding sources such as Title II, Part A; Title II, Part D; Title III, Part A; Title VI, Part B; and state and/or local resources that will be used to support the implementation of the selected intervention model(s) and, if applicable, other school improvement activities; and

  3. A school-level budget narrative detailing expenditures designed to support implementation of the selected school intervention model(s) in each of the LEA’s Tier I, Tier II and Tier III schools, including a breakdown of LEA and school level SIG funds as well as other funding sources such as Title II, Part A; Title II, Part D; Title III, Part A; Title VI, Part B; and state and/or local resources that will be used to support the implementation of the selected intervention model(s) and, if applicable, other school improvement activities;



Section E: Assurances
The superintendent’s signature on the application cover page certifies that the LEA will implement the general assurances and the program specific assurances outlined in this section.
Section F: Waivers
The LEA must check each waiver that the LEA will implement. Below each waiver list the name of the school for which the waiver is being requested. Not all waivers are applicable for each school; only indicate if the waiver is applicable for the school identified.

Appendix A
The Intervention Models
As stipulated in the USED Final Requirements for School Improvement Grants as amended November 1, 2010, the requirements for each of the four USED intervention models are provided below. The USED intervention models are required for Tier I and Tier II schools. Tier III schools may implement an intervention model or other school improvement strategies.

1. Turnaround Model

A turnaround model is one in which an LEA must:



  • Replace the principal and grant the principal sufficient operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars/time, and budgeting) to implement fully a comprehensive approach in order to substantially improve student achievement outcomes and increase high school graduation rates;

  • Use locally adopted competencies to measure the effectiveness of staff who can work within the turnaround environment to meet the needs of students, screen all existing staff and rehire no more than 50 percent, and select new staff;

  • Implement such strategies as financial incentives, increased opportunities for promotion and career growth, and more flexible work conditions that are designed to recruit, place, and retain staff with the skills necessary to meet the needs of the students in the turnaround school;

  • Provide staff ongoing, high-quality, job-embedded professional development that is aligned with the school’s comprehensive instructional program and designed with school staff to ensure that they are equipped to facilitate effective teaching and learning and have the capacity to successfully implement school reform strategies;

  • Adopt a new governance structure, which may include, but is not limited to, requiring the school to report to a new “turnaround office” in the LEA or SEA, hire a “turnaround leader” who reports directly to the superintendent or chief academic officer, or enter into a multiyear contract with the LEA or SEA to obtain added flexibility in exchange for greater accountability;

  • Use data to identify and implement an instructional program that is research-based and vertically aligned from one grade to the next as well as aligned with state academic standards;

  • Promote the continuous use of student data (such as from formative, interim, and summative assessments) to inform and differentiate instruction in order to meet the academic needs of individual students;

  • Establish schedules and implement strategies that provide increased learning time (as defined in this notice); and

  • Provide appropriate social-emotional and community-oriented services and supports for students.

A turnaround model may also implement other strategies such as the following:



  • Any of the required and permissible activities under the transformation model; or

  • A new school model (e.g., themed, dual language academy).


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