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Fed funds to help boost low-performing schools

6/13/2013, 3:51 p.m.

Virginia will receive $7.7 million from the U.S. Department of Education to help turn around its persistently lowest achieving schools through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program.

Virginia, along with Michigan and Rhode Island, are among the newest states to receive continuation awards for the third year of implementing a SIG model. Michigan was awarded $17.8 million, and Rhode Island will receive $1.6 million. These states join several other states that have already received continuation awards.

In addition to the continuation awards, the U.S. Department of Education recently awarded SIG grants to the District of Columbia, Maine and Missouri to run new competitions for previously unfunded schools. The District of Columbia received $1.5 million; Maine received $1.7 million; and Missouri received $7.7 million. The District of Columbia, Maine and Missouri join 10 states that have been awarded grants to run new competitions.

“When schools fail, our children and our neighborhoods suffer,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Turning around our lowest-performing schools is hard work but it’s our responsibility. We owe it to our children, their families and the broader community. These School Improvement Grants are helping some of the lowest-achieving schools provide a better education for students who need it the most.”

Grants are awarded to state educational departments that then make competitive subgrants to local school systems that demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to use them to provide adequate resources as a way to substantially raise student achievement in their lowest-performing schools. Under the Obama administration, Duncan said that the SIG program has invested up to $2 million per school at more than 1,300 of the country’s lowest-performing schools.

"Early findings show positive momentum and progress in many SIG schools," noted Duncan. "Findings also show that many schools receiving SIG grants are improving, and some of the greatest gains have been in small towns and rural communities."