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Crystal Greene, 503-947-5650

May 13, 2014

Third Round of School Improvement Grants Awarded

Three Oregon schools to receive total of $5.25 million in federal turnaround dollars over three years

(Salem, Ore.) – Today Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton announced that three Oregon schools will be receiving a total of $5.25 million through the U.S. Department of Education’s School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. This federal funding is designed to help improve student achievement in persistently low-achieving schools. The funds will be distributed to the selected schools over a three year grant period. Recipients of the grants are East Gresham Elementary in the Gresham-Barlow School District, Woodlawn Elementary in Portland Public Schools, and Warm Springs Academy in the Jefferson County School District.

“These grants provide a few of our lowest-performing schools with the support and funding to jumpstart their school improvement efforts,” said Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton. “Change can be hard, but these schools are facing their challenges, embracing needed change, and fully committing to the work of dramatically improving student outcomes. I am proud of their commitment and look forward to seeing the results in the years to come.”

In order to be eligible for School Improvement Grants, schools must be Title-I funded (low-income) and be among the lowest performing schools in the state. The Oregon Department of Education identified eligible schools based on a variety of factors including reading and math scores from 2011 through 2013 and school ratings on Oregon’s new accountability system. Seven schools applied for the School Improvement Grant funding, and the three awardees were selected based on their demonstrated need and their commitment to making the changes necessary to substantially raise the achievement of their students.

2014 School Improvement Grant Recipients and Total Award Amounts:

Gresham-Barlow School District
East Gresham Elementary – $1,849,038

Jefferson County School District
Warm Springs Elementary – $1,640,000

Portland School District
Woodlawn Elementary - $1,496,793

In addition to the school’s direct grant amounts, which are spread over three years, the remaining portion of the grant funding goes to support school coaches and other supports and interventions.

This is the third round of School Improvement Grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Education. The first round of twelve Oregon School Improvement Grants were issued in 2010 followed by seven round two grants in 2011. To date, a total of $55.4 million has been invested in Oregon schools through this federal turnaround program and the investments from the first two rounds of grants are showing results. School improvement funds go to pay for things such as additional professional development, staff training and collaboration time, intensive student support programs, extended learning time, dropout prevention, and development of new teacher and administrator evaluation systems.

As was reported in September, the first cohort of Oregon SIG schools have now completed the three year school improvement process and many have shown marked improvements in student achievement and graduation rates. For example, over the last three years Salem-Keizer’s McKay High School increased the percent of students meeting both reading and math targets by over 30% and dramatically reduced the dropout rate. In the past, McKay could have as many as 200 dropouts per year. In 2013, they had four and their graduation rate was 5% over the statewide average.

“Clearly this federal investment is showing results and increasing student outcomes in some of our lowest-achieving, high-poverty schools,” said Deputy Superintendent Saxton. “I expect our SIG schools to continue to have strong results as they build on the solid foundations these grants have helped to put in place. I am pleased to see three more Oregon schools receiving funds to facilitate these vital transformation efforts.”

The federal SIG program is authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and is intended to provide all children equal access to a high-quality, rigorous education. SIG is designed to improve student achievement in schools identified for improvement. Schools receiving School Improvement Grants are required to use the additional resources to fund school turnaround activities designed to make dramatic changes to teaching and learning.

Schools receiving School Improvement Grant funds can select between four different models approved by the federal government. Warm Springs Academy and Woodlawn have selected the Transformation Model. Under this model they have committed to the following: (1) develop teacher and school leader effectiveness; (2) institute comprehensive instructional reforms; (3) increase learning time and create community-oriented schools; and (4) provide operational flexibility and sustained support. East Gresham Elementary has selected the Turnaround Model which requires replacing the principal and at least 50% of the staff, adopting new governance, and implementing a new or revised instructional program. This model should incorporate interventions that take into account the recruitment, placement, and development of staff to ensure they meet student needs, schedules that increase time for both students and staff, and appropriate social-emotional and community-oriented services and supports. All three schools will start implementing interventions for the 2014-15 school year.

For more information on School Improvement Grants go to: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=2919

Rob Saxton, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction
Crystal Greene, Communications Director, Telephone (503) 947-5650

Oregon Department of Education News Releases contain information that was originally released to the press as an official release.  Refer to each News Release for the details.

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Salem, OR 97310-0203

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