Thomas Dee, Stanford University
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) targeted substantial School Improvement Grants (SIGs) to the nation’s “persistently lowest achieving” public schools. Eligible schools could receive grants of up to $2 million annually for three years. Schools that accepted grants were required to implement one of four federally prescribed school-reform models: Turnaround, Restart, School Closure, and Transformation. In this seminar Tom Dee presents findings from his study of the effects of SIG-funded whole-school reforms in California. He finds that there were significant improvements in the test-based performance of schools receiving SIG grants. His findings suggest that these improvements were largely concentrated among schools that adopted the Turnaround model, which requires the replacement of the principal and at least half of the current teaching staff. Results were also positive by the second year in schools that adopted the Transformation model, which requires both a change in leadership and changes in organizational and instructional practice within the school.