States get education funding boost to improve performance


The Department of Education is giving funding to 11 states to help them improve their lowest performing schools. Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia were all awarded funding ranging from $$1 to 20 million. Florida Governor Rick Scott also announced funding for several Florida schools that have improved performance over the past year.

The funding offered by the Department of Education comes under the School Improvement Grants program which are awarded to State Educational Agencies (SEAs) that then make competitive subgrants to those local educational agencies (LEAs) that demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to use them to provide the resources required to substantially raise student achievement in their lowest-performing schools.

Under the Obama Administration, the SIG program has invested up to $6 million per school over three years at more than 1,300 of the country’s lowest-performing schools. Early findings show positive momentum and progress in many SIG schools, and some of the greatest gains have been in small towns and rural communities.

Governor Rick Scott also awarded funding to Broward County’s public schools that sustained high student performance or demonstrated substantial improvement in student performance by presenting a check totaling more than $15 million in School Recognition Program funding to Superintendent Robert W. Runcie. Schools can use their award dollars for faculty or staff bonuses, to purchase educational equipment or materials, or hire temporary staff to help maintain or improve student performance. Statewide, school recognition funding totals more than $134 million.

Florida has steadily moved toward a performance based education model, grading schools and teachers against student test scores and other benchmarks. The state’s School Recognition Program acknowledges the quality of public schools by giving financial rewards based on sustained or significantly improved student achievement in reading, mathematics, science, and writing. Schools eligible for recognition awards include those receiving an ‘A’ school grade, improving at least one letter grade from the previous year, or improving more than one letter grade and sustaining the improvement the following school year.

Awards ranging from $5000 to over $250,000 were given to more than 100 schools throughout the county.