Maximizing ESSA’s 7-Percent Set-Aside for School Improvement by Carlas McCauley
|The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) includes major revisions to the previous law in terms of how states design their accountability systems and provide supports to improve academic outcomes in their lowest-performing schools. One revision calls for Title I schools with at least one consistently underperforming subgroup of students, identified for targeted support and improvement (TSI), to develop and implement their own intervention plan that focuses improvement efforts on the particular subgroup(s) that caused it to be identified for TSI. The TSI plan must be approved and monitored by its district.
States must also identify at least 5 percent of their Title I schools for comprehensive support and improvement (CSI). Each CSI school must implement a school-specific comprehensive intervention plan that is developed by its district but is approved, monitored, and regularly reviewed by its state education agency (SEA).
ESSA eliminated the stand-alone School Improvement Grant (SIG) and replaced it with a required 7-percent state-level set-aside of Title I funds for school improvement, to be used for TSI and CSI schools. At least 95 percent of these school-improvement funds must go to local school districts, education service agencies, or consortia of districts, by formula or competition. Like SIG, the set-aside may be used to conduct a grant competition and permits an award for up to four years, which may include a planning year.
In this blog post describing the new regulations, Carlas McCauley, Director for WestEd’s Center on School Turnaround, helps SEAs navigate the new regulations to maximize the effectiveness of the 7% set-aside, including possible challenges and opportunities for states as they consider the best approaches to promoting and facilitating comprehensive, evidence-based activities that have the greatest potential to lead to success for all students.