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Georgia Schools to Receive More Than $122 Million in School Improvement Grants

 MEDIA CONTACT : Matt Cardoza, (404) 651-7358,    - Follow us on  Twitter  and  Facebook     April 7, 2010  – The U.S. Department of Education announced yesterday that Georgia will receive more than $122 million to turn around its persistently lowest achieving schools through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. School districts that have any "persistently lowest achieving" schools can compete for the $122,815,607 made available to Georgia.   "We're excited to be partnering with our local school systems to provide them with the guidance and resources necessary to make good decisions about the use of this money," said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. "This is a great opportunity for schools and communities to transform their high schools so that we can bring student achievement levels up across the board."   When school districts apply, they must indicate that they will implement one of the following four models in their persistently lowest achieving schools:    TURNAROUND MODEL : Replace the principal, screen existing school staff, and rehire no more than half the teachers; adopt a new governance structure; and improve the school through curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.    RESTART MODEL : Convert a school or close it and re-open it as a charter school or under an education management organization.    SCHOOL CLOSURE : Close the school and send the students to higher-achieving schools in the district.    TRANSFORMATION MODEL : Replace the principal and improve the school through comprehensive curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.   Once schools receive SIG funds, they can begin spending them immediately to turn around schools this fall. States may apply to U.S. ED for a waiver to allow them to spend funds over a three-year period. An additional $545,633,000 has been provided for SIG in 2010 and will be awarded to states to fund additional schools in the 2011-12 school year.   After submitting the state application, the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) began working closely with eligible schools to offer assistance in the development of an "approvable" plan.   "I'm proud of our dedicated School Improvement staff for developing an application that clearly defined Georgia's goals for ensuring increased student achievement," said Superintendent Cox.   Georgia has a strong record of success when working with schools in Needs Improvement status. This past year, 17 State-directed Schools were removed from Needs Improvement status. As part of Georgia’s Differentiated Accountability Plan under No Child Left Behind, a school in Needs Improvement level five and above has a full-time state director that is in the school to offer support, provide assistance in monitoring implementation of strategies, and work with leadership teams to develop plans to sustain student achievement.   More Information:  -  Georgia’s application, which includes its list of persistently lowest achieving schools   -  Georgia's definition of "Lowest Achieving Schools"