The Council of Great City Schools recently released a report assessing the impact of SIG on their member schools & districts. Overall, the study found that the majority of schools did improve, although some of the growth flat lined in years 3 and beyond. Schools also succeeded in reducing the percentage of students in the lowest achievement groups – a key indicator of school improvement.
The study also determined several strategies that appear to increase the chance of improvement, including:
- A clear, coherent, and coordinated district plan for supporting and turning around the lowest-performing schools—and strong commitment for comprehensively executing this plan.
- Interventions that were focused on instructional improvements and provided schools with high quality instructional programming and materials.
- The coordination of instructional interventions and strategies that complemented each other.
- Professional development that built staff instructional capacity.
- Principals who were invested in a vision for improvement and were able to communicate these priorities to teachers, staff, students, and the community.
- Principals who were given the flexibility to make staff changes or remove ineffective educators.
- The ability to leverage data to identify the specific academic needs of struggling students, determine needs for professional development, and decide on intervention strategies.
Sustainability and implementing with fidelity remains a concern for the use of SIG funds, but this study brings some important nuances to the SIG debate – as previous ED data analysis lacked qualitative research and much of the quantitative data was pulled from the studies (for a variety of a reasons).