FR Doc E9-29183[Federal Register: December 10, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 236)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 65617-65659]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr10de09-28]                               

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Part III





Department of Education





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34 CFR Subtitle B, Chapter II



School Improvement Grants; Final Rule


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

34 CFR Subtitle B, Chapter II

[Docket ID ED-2009-OESE-0010]
RIN 1810-AB06

 
School Improvement Grants; American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 
of 2009 (ARRA); Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act 
of 1965, as Amended (ESEA)

ACTION: Final requirements for School Improvement Grants authorized 
under section 1003(g) of Title I of the ESEA.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Secretary of Education (Secretary) issues final 
requirements for School Improvement Grants authorized under section 
1003(g) of Title I of the ESEA, and funded through both the Department 
of Education Appropriations Act, 2009 and the ARRA. The final 
requirements govern the process that a State educational agency (SEA) 
uses to award school improvement funds to local educational agencies 
(LEAs) with the persistently lowest-achieving Title I schools that 
demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest 
commitment to use those funds to raise substantially the achievement of 
the students attending those schools. Under the final requirements, an 
LEA may also use school improvement funds to serve persistently lowest-
achieving secondary schools that are eligible for, but do not receive, 
Title I funds and Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, 
and restructuring that are not among the persistently lowest-achieving 
schools. The final requirements require an SEA to award school 
improvement funds to eligible LEAs in amounts sufficient to enable the 
persistently lowest-achieving schools to implement one of four specific 
school intervention models.

DATES: The requirements are effective February 8, 2010.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Zollie Stevenson, Jr., U.S. 
Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, 
400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3W320, Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: 
(202) 260-0826 or by e-mail: Zollie.Stevenson@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the 
Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 
    Purpose of Program: School Improvement Grants under section 1003(g) 
of the ESEA are used in Title I schools identified for improvement, 
corrective action, or restructuring that demonstrate the greatest need 
for the funds and the strongest commitment to use the funds to provide 
adequate resources in order to raise substantially the achievement of 
their students so as to enable those schools to make adequate yearly 
progress (AYP) and exit improvement status. These final requirements 
emphasize the use of School Improvement Grants in each State's 
persistently lowest-achieving Title I schools as well as, through a 
waiver, a State's persistently lowest-achieving secondary schools that 
are eligible for, but do not receive, Title I, Part A funds.
    Availability of Funds: Appropriations for School Improvement Grants 
have grown from $125 million in fiscal year (FY) 2007 to $546 million 
in FY 2009. The ARRA provides an additional $3 billion for School 
Improvement Grants in FY 2009. These final requirements govern the 
total $3.546 billion in FY 2009 school improvement funds, an 
unprecedented sum with the potential to transform fundamentally some of 
the Nation's persistently lowest-achieving schools. The Secretary may 
also use these requirements in subsequent years in which this program 
is in effect.

    Program Authority:  20 U.S.C. 6303(g).

    Background:
    Statutory Context:
    Section 1003(g) of the ESEA requires the Secretary to award School 
Improvement Grants to each SEA based on the SEA's proportionate share 
of the funds it receives under Title I, Parts A, C, and D of the ESEA. 
In turn, each SEA must provide subgrants to LEAs that apply for those 
funds to assist their Title I schools identified for improvement, 
corrective action, or restructuring under section 1116 of the ESEA. 
This assistance is intended to help these schools implement reform 
strategies that result in substantially improved student achievement so 
that the schools can make AYP and exit improvement status.
    To receive school improvement funds under section 1003(g), an SEA 
must submit an application to the Department at such time, and 
containing such information, as the Secretary shall reasonably require. 
An SEA must allocate at least 95 percent of its school improvement 
funds directly to LEAs, although the SEA may, with the approval of the 
LEAs that would receive the funds, directly provide assistance in 
implementing school reform strategies or arrange for their provision 
through such other entities as school support teams or educational 
service agencies. A subgrant to an LEA must be of sufficient size and 
scope to support the activities required under section 1116 of the 
ESEA. An LEA's total subgrant may not be less than $50,000 or more than 
$500,000 per year for each participating Title I school in improvement, 
corrective action, or restructuring. An LEA's subgrant is renewable for 
two additional one-year periods.
    In awarding School Improvement Grants, an SEA must give priority to 
LEAs that, in their application to the SEA, demonstrate (1) the 
greatest need for the funds and (2) the strongest commitment to 
ensuring that the funds are used to provide adequate resources to 
enable the lowest-achieving schools to raise substantially the 
achievement of their students.
    Overview of Final Requirements:
    The Secretary published a notice of proposed requirements (NPR) for 
this program in the Federal Register on August 26, 2009 (74 FR 43101). 
That notice contained background information and the Secretary's 
rationale for focusing the historic FY 2009 investment in School 
Improvement Grants on turning around our Nation's persistently lowest-
achieving schools. The final requirements retain the general provisions 
proposed in the NPR with some changes described later in this notice. 
We note where provisions in the NPR have been reorganized and 
renumbered in these final requirements.
    To drive school improvement funds to LEAs with the greatest need 
for those funds, the Secretary is requiring each SEA to identify three 
tiers of schools:
     Tier I schools: Title I schools in improvement, corrective 
action, or restructuring that are identified by the SEA under paragraph 
(a)(1) of the definition of persistently lowest-achieving schools.
     Tier II schools: Secondary schools that are eligible for, 
but do not receive, Title I, Part A funds and are identified by the SEA 
under paragraph (a)(2) of the definition of persistently lowest-
achieving schools.
     Tier III schools: Title I schools in improvement, 
corrective action, or restructuring that are not Tier I schools.
    An LEA that wishes to receive a School Improvement Grant must 
submit an application to its SEA identifying which Tier I, Tier II, and 
Tier III schools it commits to serve and how it will use school 
improvement funds in its Tier I and Tier II schools to implement one of 
the following four school intervention models intended to improve the 
management and effectiveness of these schools:
     Turnaround model, which includes, among other actions, 
replacing the principal and rehiring no more than 50 percent of the 
school's staff, adopting

[[Page 65619]]

a new governance structure, and implementing an instructional program 
that is research-based and vertically aligned from one grade to the 
next as well as aligned with a State's academic standards.
     Restart model, in which an LEA converts the school or 
closes and reopens it under the management of a charter school 
operator, a charter management organization (CMO), or an education 
management organization (EMO) that has been selected through a rigorous 
review process.
     School closure, in which an LEA closes the school and 
enrolls the students who attended the school in other, higher-achieving 
schools in the LEA.
     Transformation model, which addresses four specific areas 
critical to transforming persistently lowest-achieving schools.
    We have fully aligned the school intervention models and related 
definitions across the Race to the Top, the State Fiscal Stabilization 
Fund Phase II, and the School Improvement Grants programs to make it 
easier for States to develop and implement consistent and coherent 
plans for turning around their persistently lowest-achieving schools.
    In awarding School Improvement Grants to an eligible LEA, an SEA 
must provide sufficient funding to the LEA, consistent with its 
proposed budget, to implement the selected school intervention model in 
each Tier I and Tier II school the LEA commits to serve, to close 
schools, and to serve participating Tier III schools. An LEA's total 
grant award must contain funds for each Title I school in improvement, 
corrective action, or restructuring that the LEA commits to serve, 
including $500,000 per year for each Tier I school that will implement 
a turnaround, restart, or transformation model unless the LEA 
demonstrates that less funding is needed to fully and effectively 
implement its selected intervention.\1\ Once an LEA receives its School 
Improvement Grant, it has the flexibility to spend more than $500,000 
per year in its Tier I and Tier II schools so long as all schools 
identified in its application are served. Recognizing that it takes 
time to implement rigorous interventions and reap results in the 
persistently lowest-achieving schools, the final requirements enable an 
SEA or LEA to apply to the Secretary for a waiver of the period of 
availability of school improvement funds beyond September 30, 2011 so 
as to make those funds available to LEAs for up to three years.
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    \1\ An SEA may award school improvement funds to an LEA based 
only on the Title I participating schools that the LEA identifies in 
its application. Tier II schools will, thus, not generate any funds 
because they are not Title I schools in improvement, corrective 
action, or restructuring; however, the LEA may serve them, through a 
waiver requested by the SEA or LEA, with the school improvement 
funds the LEA receives.
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    Because data are critical to informing and evaluating the 
effectiveness of the rigorous interventions being implemented, SEAs and 
LEAs must report specific school-level data related to the use of 
school improvement funds and the impact of the specific interventions 
implemented.
    Availability of State Administrative Funds:
    The Secretary has taken two actions to assist SEAs in preparing to 
implement the final requirements at both the State and local levels. 
First, the Secretary published in the Federal Register a notice of 
final adjustments that permits each SEA to reserve an additional 
percentage of Title I, Part A funds (0.3 or 0.5 percent of its Title I, 
Part A ARRA allocation, depending on whether the SEA requests waivers 
of certain requirements) to help defray the costs associated with ARRA 
data collection and reporting requirements (74 FR 55215 (Oct. 27, 
2009)), including those required by ARRA School Improvement Grants. 
Second, the Secretary is awarding immediately the full amount each 
State may reserve from its FY 2009 School Improvement Grant for State 
administration, technical assistance, and evaluation. These funds may 
be used at the State level for such activities as preparing the State 
application and developing LEA applications as well as providing 
technical assistance to LEAs with persistently lowest-achieving schools 
that will be likely to receive a School Improvement Grant. Such 
technical assistance might include disseminating model processes to 
assist LEAs in carrying out needs assessments and screening partner 
organizations; initiating State or regional efforts to recruit and 
develop principals to serve in persistently lowest-achieving schools; 
attracting EMOs and CMOs to the State to restart persistently lowest-
achieving schools; and developing sample competencies that LEAs can use 
to review staff to work in a turnaround environment. An SEA may also 
allocate some of the funds to LEAs in order to provide resources to 
ensure that those LEAs are ready to implement the interventions in 
their Tier I and Tier II schools if and when they receive a School 
Improvement Grant. An LEA might, for example, use the funds to review 
student achievement; evaluate current policies and practices that 
support or impede reform; assess the strengths and weaknesses of school 
leaders, teachers, and staff; recruit and train effective principals 
capable of implementing an intervention; or identify and screen outside 
partners.
    Major Changes from the School Improvement Grants NPR:
    The following is a summary of the major, substantive changes we 
made based on public comments on the School Improvement Grants NPR as 
well as the NPR for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Phase II 
program and the notice of proposed priorities, requirements, 
definitions, and selection criteria for the Race to the Top program. 
The rationale for each of these changes is discussed in the Analysis of 
Comments and Changes section of this notice.

Major Changes Made in the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Phase II 
Notice of Final Requirements, Definitions, and Approval Criteria

    Because a central purpose of ARRA funds is to increase the academic 
achievement of students in struggling schools, the notices regarding 
the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Phase II, the Race to the Top Fund, 
and the School Improvement Grants programs each included requirements 
related to struggling schools. Commenters on each notice recommended 
that the Department apply consistent definitions and requirements for 
struggling schools across all three programs. In response, we revised 
the four school intervention models proposed in the School Improvement 
Grants NPR and integrated them into the criteria, definitions, and 
requirements for all three programs. In addition, we developed several 
definitions for use in all three programs.
    Because the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Phase II notice of 
final requirements was the first to be published (74 FR 58436 (Nov. 12, 
2009)), we issued, in that notice, the final requirements for the four 
school intervention models as well as definitions of persistently 
lowest-achieving schools, increased learning time, and student growth. 
The following summarizes the changes reflected in those final 
requirements from the School Improvement Grants NPR. (The section 
citations from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Phase II notice for 
the school intervention models are preceded by ``I.A.2'' and the 
definitions are in new section I.A.3 to conform to the remaining 
citations in the final requirements for the School Improvement Grants 
program.)
     New section I.A.3 adds a definition of persistently 
lowest-achieving

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schools \2\ that incorporates, with the following changes, the proposed 
definitions of Tier I and Tier II schools:
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    \2\ Persistently lowest-achieving schools are the same schools 
targeted in the Race to the Top competitive grant program and on 
which States must report under Phase II of the State Fiscal 
Stabilization Fund under the ARRA.
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     An SEA must include Title I participating and Title I 
eligible, but not participating, high schools that have had a 
graduation rate, as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b), of less than 60 
percent over a number of years.
     An SEA must identify the lowest-achieving five percent of 
secondary schools or the lowest-achieving five secondary schools in the 
State that are eligible for, but do not receive, Title I funds, 
whichever number of schools is greater.
     An SEA has discretion to define ``lack of progress'' in 
the ``all students'' group to identify its persistently lowest-
achieving schools.
     New Section I.A.3 adds a definition of increased learning 
time as that term is used in the definitions for the turnaround and 
transformation models.
     New Section I.A.3 adds a definition of student growth as 
that term is used in describing evaluation systems for teachers and 
principals in the transformation model.
     Section I.A.2(a) makes the following changes in the 
turnaround model:
     In new paragraph (a)(1)(i) (proposed (a)(i)), an LEA must 
give the principal sufficient operational flexibility to implement 
fully a comprehensive approach to improving student achievement and 
increasing graduation rates.
     In new paragraph (a)(1)(ii), using locally adopted 
competencies, an LEA must screen all staff, rehiring no more than 50 
percent, and select new staff.
     In new paragraph (a)(1)(vi) (proposed (a)(vi)), an LEA 
must use data to identify and implement an instructional program that 
is research-based and vertically aligned from one grade to the next as 
well as aligned with the State's academic standards.
     New section I.A.2(a)(2) clarifies that a turnaround model 
may include any of the required and permissible activities under the 
transformation model and may be a new school model.
     Section I.A.2(b) clarifies that, in the restart model, an 
LEA may convert a school as well as close and reopen it. This section 
also adds definitions of CMO and EMO that were in the preamble of the 
School Improvement Grants NPR.
     Section I.A.2(c) clarifies that, in the school closure 
model, students from a closed school must be enrolled in higher-
achieving schools that should be within reasonable proximity to the 
closed school and may include, but are not limited to, new schools as 
well as charter schools.
     Section I.A.2(d) makes the following changes in the 
transformation model:
     In new paragraph (d)(1)(i)(B) (proposed (d)(i)(A)(1)), an 
LEA must use rigorous, transparent, and equitable evaluation systems 
for teachers and principals that take into account data on student 
growth and other factors such as observation-based assessments of 
performance and collections of professional practice and that are 
designed and developed with teacher and principal involvement.
     In new paragraph (d)(1)(i)(C) (proposed (d)(i)(A)(2)), an 
LEA must reward staff who increase student achievement and graduation 
rates and remove those who, after ample opportunities have been 
provided to improve their professional practice, have not done so.
     In new paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(C), an LEA may provide 
additional supports and professional development to teachers and 
principals on implementing effective strategies to support students 
with disabilities in the least restrictive environment and to ensure 
that limited English proficient students \3\ acquire language skills to 
master academic content.
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    \3\ The Department recognizes that stakeholders often use terms 
such as ``English language learners'' rather than ``students who are 
limited English proficient'' when referring to students who are 
acquiring basic English proficiency and developing academic English 
skills. However, because the ESEA defines the term ``limited English 
proficient,'' and both the statute and the implementing regulations 
use this term, as well as the phrase ``students with limited English 
proficiency,'' we will continue to use the latter terms in this 
notice.
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     In new paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(D), an LEA may integrate 
technology-based supports and interventions as part of a school's 
instructional program.
     In new paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(E)(1) (proposed 
(d)(ii)(B)(3)(a)), an LEA may offer advanced coursework that includes 
science, technology, engineering, and mathematics courses, especially 
those that incorporate rigorous and relevant project-, inquiry-, or 
design-based contextual learning opportunities.
     In new paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(E)(3) (proposed 
(d)(ii)(B)(3)(c)), an LEA may use, among other strategies, re-
engagement strategies, competency-based instruction, and performance-
based assessments to increase graduation rates.
     In new paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(E)(4), an LEA may establish 
early-warning systems to identify students who may be at risk of 
failing to achieve to high standards or graduate.
     In new paragraph (d)(3)(ii)(D), an LEA may expand the 
school program to offer full-day kindergarten or pre-kindergarten.

Major Changes Made in These Final Requirements

    The following summarizes the major changes from the School 
Improvement Grants NPR that we are making in these final requirements.
     New section I.B.4 clarifies that an SEA may seek a waiver 
from the Secretary to enable an LEA to use school improvement funds to 
serve a Tier II secondary school.
     New section I.B.5 clarifies that an SEA may seek a waiver 
from the Secretary to extend the period of availability of school 
improvement funds beyond September 30, 2011 so as to make those funds 
available to the SEA and its LEAs for up to three years.
     New section I.B.6 clarifies that, if an SEA does not seek 
a waiver under sections I.B.2, I.B.3, I.B.4, or I.B.5, an LEA may seek 
a waiver.
     New section II.A.2(a) (proposed II.A.2) clarifies that an 
LEA's application must include, among other items, the specific 
intervention the LEA will implement in each Tier I and Tier II school 
it commits to serve; evidence of the LEA's strong commitment to use 
school improvement funds to implement the selected interventions; a 
timeline for implementation; and a budget.
     New section II.A.2(b) (proposed II.A.2) prohibits an LEA 
that has nine or more Tier I and Tier II schools from implementing the 
transformation model in more than 50 percent of those schools.
     Section II.A.4 clarifies that an LEA's budget may request 
less than $500,000 for a Tier I or Tier II school if the LEA 
demonstrates that less funding is needed to fully and effectively 
implement the selected intervention.
     Section II.A.7 requires an LEA to measure progress on the 
leading indicators in section III of these requirements and to 
establish annual goals for student achievement on the State's 
assessments in both reading/language arts and mathematics to monitor 
each Tier I and Tier II school that receives school improvement funds.
     New section II.B.2(c) clarifies that an SEA, consistent 
with State law, may take over an LEA or specific Tier I or Tier II 
schools in order to implement one of the four interventions.
     New section II.B.2(d) clarifies that an SEA may not 
require an LEA to implement a particular intervention in

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one or more schools unless the SEA has taken over the LEA or school.
     New section II.B.3 requires an SEA to post on its Web site 
all final LEA applications for School Improvement Grants and a summary 
of those grants that includes the following information: name and 
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) identification number 
of each LEA awarded a grant; amount of each LEA's grant; name and NCES 
identification number of each school to be served; and type of 
intervention to be implemented in each Tier I and Tier II school.
     Section II.B.6 requires an SEA to allocate $500,000 per 
year for each Tier I school unless the SEA determines on a case-by-case 
basis, considering such factors as school size, the intervention 
selected, and other relevant circumstances, that less funding is needed 
to fully and effectively implement the intervention.
     New section II.B.10(a) requires an SEA not serving every 
Tier I school in a State with FY 2009 school improvement funds to carry 
over 25 percent of those funds, combine them with FY 2010 school 
improvement funds (depending on the availability of appropriations), 
and award those funds to eligible LEAs consistent with these final 
requirements. That section exempts from this requirement, however, a 
State that does not have sufficient school improvement funds to serve 
all the Tier I schools that LEAs in the State commit to serve. If each 
Tier I school is served with FY 2009 school improvement funds, new 
section II.B.10(b) permits an SEA to reserve up to 25 percent of its FY 
2009 funds and award them in combination with its FY 2010 funds 
(depending on the availability of appropriations) consistent with the 
final requirements.
     New section II.B.11 requires an SEA, in identifying Tier I 
and Tier II schools for purposes of allocating school improvement funds 
in years following FY 2009, to exclude from consideration any school 
that was previously identified and in which an LEA is implementing one 
of the four school intervention models.
     New section II.B.12 requires an SEA that is participating 
in the ``differentiated accountability pilot'' to ensure that its LEAs 
use school improvement funds under section 1003(g) of the ESEA in a 
Tier I or Tier II school consistent with these requirements.
     New section II.B.13 clarifies that, before submitting its 
application for a School Improvement Grant to the Department, an SEA 
must consult with its Committee of Practitioners established under 
section 1903(b) of the ESEA regarding the rules and policies contained 
therein and may consult with other stakeholders that have an interest 
in its application.
     Section III makes the following changes to the reporting 
metrics:
     Modifies the metric on State assessment scores to require 
SEAs to report on average scale scores on State assessments in reading/
language arts and in mathematics, by grade, for the ``all students'' 
group, for each achievement quartile, and for each subgroup.
     Modifies the metric regarding English proficiency of Title 
III limited English proficient students by expanding it to apply to all 
limited English proficient students in Tier I and Tier II schools who 
attain English proficiency.
     Removes the metric regarding ``AMAO status for LEP 
students.''
     Modifies the metric on advanced coursework to require SEAs 
to report the number and percentage of students completing advanced 
coursework.
     Modifies the metric regarding the number of instructional 
minutes to require SEAs to report the number of minutes within the 
school year.
     Clarifies that SEAs must report rates of ``student 
attendance'' and ``teacher attendance.''
    Analysis of Comments and Changes:
    In response to our invitation in the NPR, 182 parties submitted 
comments. An analysis of the comments and any changes in response to 
those comments follows. Generally, we do not address technical and 
other minor changes.

Analysis of Comments and Changes Included in the State Fiscal 
Stabilization Fund Phase II Notice of Final Requirements, Definitions, 
and Approval Criteria

    The following discussion summarizes the comments we received, and 
our responses, on the definitions of Tier I and Tier II schools 
proposed in the School Improvement Grants NPR that are now included in 
the definition of persistently lowest-achieving schools. This 
discussion also summarizes the comments and our responses on the four 
school intervention models proposed in the School Improvement Grants 
NPR. These comments and responses were first published in the State 
Fiscal Stabilization Fund Phase II Notice of Final Requirements, 
Definitions, and Approval Criteria (74 FR 58436 (Nov. 12, 2009)) and 
are repeated here verbatim.

Definition of Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools

    Comment: A number of commenters recommended alternatives to the 
process proposed in the [School Improvement Grants] SIG NPR for 
determining the lowest-achieving five percent of all Title I schools in 
improvement, corrective action, or restructuring in the State--that is, 
``Tier I'' schools. As proposed in the SIG NPR, a Tier I school is a 
school in the lowest-achieving five percent of all Title I schools in 
improvement, corrective action, or restructuring in the State, or one 
of the five lowest-achieving Title I schools in improvement, corrective 
action, or restructuring in the State, whichever number of schools is 
greater. Under the SIG NPR, to determine this ``bottom five percent,'' 
a State would have had to consider both the absolute performance of a 
school on the State's assessments in reading/language arts and 
mathematics and whether its gains on those assessments for the ``all 
students'' group over a number of years were less than the average 
gains of schools in the State for the ``all students'' group.
    Several commenters said this proposed process was too prescriptive 
and recommended that States have more flexibility in determining the 
lowest-achieving five percent. The commenters specifically suggested 
permitting States to restrict Tier I schools to schools in 
restructuring if this group constitutes more than five percent of a 
State's identified schools; to apply a State's growth model; or to 
consider such other factors as measures of individual student growth, 
writing samples, grades, and portfolios. One commenter suggested that 
the Department determine the lowest-achieving five percent of schools 
in the Nation rather than have each State determine its own lowest-
achieving five percent. Other commenters recommended changes that 
include taking into account the length of time a school has been 
designated for restructuring, measuring gains related to English 
language proficiency, and including newly designated Title I schools 
(especially secondary schools) that do not yet have an improvement 
status.
    Several commenters also suggested changing the method for 
determining ``lack of progress,'' including using subgroups rather than 
the ``all students'' group, measuring progress in meeting adequate 
yearly progress targets, and narrowing achievement gaps. Another 
commenter recommended clarifying that, even if a school shows gains 
greater than the State average, it should

[[Page 65622]]

not be considered to be making progress if those gains are not greater 
than zero.
    Finally, several commenters suggested that graduation rates be 
taken into account in determining the lowest-achieving Title I high 
schools. One of these commenters suggested including in Tier I all 
Title I high schools in improvement, corrective action, or 
restructuring with a graduation rate below 60 percent as well as their 
feeder middle and junior high schools.
    Discussion: In developing our proposed definition of the lowest-
achieving five percent of schools for each State as defined in the SIG 
NPR, we considered several alternatives, including the use of the 
existing ESEA improvement categories and the possibility of using a 
measure that would identify the lowest-achieving five percent of 
schools in the Nation rather than on a State-by-State basis. The goal 
was to identify a uniform measure that could be applied easily by all 
States using existing assessment data. We started with Title I schools 
in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring as the initial 
universe from which to select the lowest-achieving schools because 
those are the schools eligible to receive SIG funds. ESEA improvement 
categories were deemed too dependent on variations in individual 
subgroup performance, rather than the overall performance of an entire 
school, to reliably identify our worst schools. A nationwide measure, 
although appealing from the perspective of national education policy, 
would likely have identified many schools in a handful of States and 
few or none in the majority of States, making it an inappropriate guide 
for the most effective use of State formula grant funds.
    In general, we believe that the changes and alternatives suggested 
by commenters would add complexity to the method for determining the 
lowest-achieving five percent of schools without meaningfully improving 
the outcome. With the changes noted subsequently, we believe the 
definition proposed in the SIG NPR is straightforward, can be easily 
applied using data available in all States, and can produce easily 
understood results in the form of a list of State's lowest-achieving 
schools that have not improved in a number of years.
    Regarding the determination of whether a school is making progress 
in improving its scores on State assessments, the commenters 
highlighted the complexity and potential unreliability of measuring 
year-to-year gains on such assessments. In response, we are simplifying 
this aspect of the definition to give SEAs greater flexibility in 
determining a school's lack of progress on State assessments over a 
number of years.
    We also agree that it is important to include Title I high schools 
in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that have low 
graduation rates in the definition. The Secretary has made addressing 
our Nation's unacceptably high drop-out rates--an estimated 1 million 
students leave school annually, many never to return--a national 
priority. In recognition of this priority, and in response to 
recommendations from commenters, we are including in the definition any 
Title I high school in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring 
that has had a graduation rate that is less than 60 percent over a 
number of years.
    Accordingly, we have made these changes and incorporated the 
process for determining the lowest-achieving five percent of Title I 
schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring--also known 
as Tier I schools for purposes of SIG funds--into a new definition of 
persistently lowest-achieving schools in this notice.
    Changes: The Department has added a definition of persistently 
lowest-achieving schools to this notice that incorporates the process 
described in the SIG NPR for determining the lowest-achieving five 
percent of Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or 
restructuring (or the lowest-achieving five such schools, whichever 
number of schools is greater) (``Tier I'' schools for purposes of SIG). 
This new definition also includes any Title I high school in 
improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that has had a 
graduation rate of less than 60 percent over a number of years (as will 
the ``Tier I'' definition for SIG purposes). We have removed language 
in proposed section I.A.1.a(ii) of the SIG NPR defining ``a school that 
has not made progress.''
    Comment: Numerous commenters expressed support for including 
chronically low-achieving secondary schools that are eligible for, but 
not receiving Title I funds as Tier II schools, as proposed in section 
I.A.1.b in the SIG NPR, including one commenter who suggested that LEAs 
be required to fund Tier II schools. Other commenters, however, opposed 
the use of Title I funds in non-Title I schools and recommended that 
other funding be identified to serve those schools or stated that the 
inclusion of those schools is more appropriately addressed in the Title 
I reauthorization. One commenter suggested that it would not be 
appropriate to provide Title I funds to such schools when the SIG NPR 
would restrict the number of Title I schools that can be served in Tier 
I.
    Discussion: We believe that low-achieving secondary schools often 
present unique resource, logistical, and pedagogical challenges that 
require rigorous interventions to address. Yet, many such schools that 
are eligible to receive Title I funds are not served because of 
competing needs for Title I funds within an LEA. The large amounts of 
ARRA funds--available through Stabilization, Race to the Top, and SIG--
present an opportunity to address the needs of these low-achieving 
secondary schools. Accordingly, we have continued in this notice to 
include secondary schools that are eligible for, but do not receive, 
Title I funds in the definition of the persistently lowest-achieving 
schools in a State.
    As proposed in the SIG NPR, such secondary schools would have been 
eligible if they were equally as low-achieving as a Tier I school. We 
realized that this standard was too vague, particularly in light of the 
rigorous interventions that would be required if an SEA identified, and 
an LEA decided to serve, such a school. As a result, we have changed 
the definition to include secondary schools that are eligible for, but 
do not receive, Title I funds and that are among the lowest-achieving 
five percent of such schools in a State (or the lowest five such 
schools, whichever number of schools is greater). An SEA must identify 
these schools using the same criteria as it uses to identify the 
lowest-achieving Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, and 
restructuring.
    For the reasons noted earlier in this notice, we have also included 
in the definition any high school that is eligible for, but does not 
receive, Title I funds and that has had a graduation rate that is less 
than 60 percent over a number of years.
    Changes: The Department has added a definition of persistently 
lowest-achieving schools to this notice that incorporates the lowest-
achieving five percent of secondary schools in a State that are 
eligible for, but do not receive, Title I funds (or the lowest-
achieving five such schools, whichever number of schools is greater) 
(``Tier II'' schools for purposes of SIG). This new definition also 
includes any high school that is eligible for, but does not receive, 
Title I funds that has had a graduation rate of less than 60 percent 
over a number of years (as will the ``Tier II'' definition for SIG 
purposes). We have removed language in proposed section I.A.1.b of the 
SIG NPR that required a comparison of the achievement of secondary 
schools to Tier I schools.

[[Page 65623]]

General Comments on the Four Intervention Models

    Comment: One commenter supported the Secretary's intent in 
proposing the four interventions in the SIG NPR. The commenter noted 
that the majority of SIG funds are intended to target the very lowest-
achieving schools in the Nation--schools that have not just missed 
their accountability targets by narrow margins or in a single subgroup. 
Rather, they are schools that have ``profoundly fail[ed]'' their 
students ``for some time.'' Accordingly, the commenter acknowledged 
that the four interventions are appropriately designed to engage these 
schools in bold, dramatic changes or else to close their doors.
    Conversely, several commenters suggested that the four 
interventions are too prescriptive and do not leave room for State 
innovation and discretion to fashion similarly rigorous interventions 
that may be more workable in a particular State. The commenters noted 
that for some school districts, particularly the most rural districts, 
none of the interventions may be feasible solutions. In addition, 
several commenters rejected the idea that there should be any Federal 
requirements governing struggling schools. The commenters suggested 
that schools in need of improvement be permitted to engage in self-
improvement strategies tailored to each individual school's needs as 
determined at the local level based on local data, rather than being 
mandated to adopt specific models by the Federal Government.
    Discussion: We disagree that the four models limit State 
innovation. Each model provides flexibility and permits LEAs to develop 
approaches that are tailored to the needs of their schools within the 
broad context created by each model's requirements. We do not believe 
that any one model is appropriate for all schools; rather, it is the 
Department's intention that LEAs select the model that is appropriate 
for each particular school.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested adding a fifth intervention 
option. One commenter, for example, suggested permitting States to 
propose an alternative, but rigorous, intervention model for approval 
through a peer review process. The commenter noted that whatever 
accountability measure is adopted in the SIG notice of final 
requirements should serve to ensure that the model is held accountable 
for results. Another commenter suggested a ``scale up'' model, in which 
an LEA could use SIG funds to expand interventions with documented 
success in producing rapid improvement in student achievement within 
that LEA or in another LEA with similar demographics and challenges. 
Yet another commenter suggested adding a ``supported transformation'' 
model to accommodate, in particular, the needs of children in low-
achieving schools in small, rural communities that lack the capacity to 
transform their schools. The commenter identified the need for an SEA 
to build the capacity of struggling LEAs by working to develop models 
for intervention, to identify specific evidence-based intervention 
strategies, and to provide ongoing, intensive technical, pedagogical, 
and practical assistance so as to increase LEAs' capacity to assist 
their low-achieving schools.
    Discussion: We included the four school intervention models in the 
SIG NPR after an extensive examination of available research and 
literature on school turnaround strategies and after outreach to 
practitioners. Our goal, which we believe was achieved, was to identify 
fundamental, disruptive changes that LEAs could make in order to 
finally break the long cycle of educational failure--including the 
failure of previous reforms--in the Nation's persistently lowest-
achieving schools. We also believe that these models, despite their 
limited number, potentially encompass a wide range of specific reform 
approaches, thus negating the need for a ``fifth model.'' We 
understand, for example, that school closure may not work in some LEAs, 
but that leaves the turnaround, restart, or transformation models as 
possible options for them. We also know that not all States have a 
charter school law, limiting the restart options available to LEAs in 
such States. However, even where charter schools are not an option, an 
LEA could work with an Education Management Organization (EMO) to 
restart a failed school or could pursue one of the other three 
intervention models. And we understand that some rural areas may face 
unique challenges in turning around low-achieving schools, but note 
that the significant amount of funding available to implement the four 
models will help to overcome the many resource limitations that 
previously have hindered successful rural school reform in many areas.
    The four school intervention models described in the SIG NPR also 
are internally flexible, permitting LEAs to develop their own 
approaches in the broad context created by the models' requirements. 
For example, the turnaround and restart models focus on governance and 
leadership changes, leaving substantial flexibility and autonomy for 
new leadership teams to develop and implement their own comprehensive 
improvement plans. Even the transformation model includes a wide 
variety of permissible activities from which LEAs may choose to 
supplement required elements, which are primarily focused on creating 
the conditions to support effective school turnarounds rather than the 
specific methods and activities targeting the academic needs of the 
students in the school.
    We also note that over the course of the past eight years, States 
and LEAs have had considerable time, and have been able to tap new 
resources, to identify and implement effective school turnaround 
strategies. Yet they have demonstrated little success in doing so, 
particularly in the Nation's persistently lowest-achieving schools, 
including an estimated 2,000 ``dropout factories.'' Under the ESEA, 
States have been required to set up statewide systems of support for 
LEA and school improvement; to identify low-achieving schools for a 
range of improvement, corrective action, and restructuring activities; 
and to use the school improvement reservation under section 1003(a) of 
the ESEA to fund such improvement activities. However, the overall 
number of schools identified for improvement, corrective action, and 
restructuring continues to grow; in particular, the number of 
chronically low-achieving Title I schools identified for restructuring 
has roughly tripled over the past three years to more than 5,000 
schools. SEAs have thus far helped no more than a handful of these 
schools to successfully restructure and exit improvement status, in 
large part, we believe, because of an unwillingness to undertake the 
kind of radical, fundamental reforms necessary to improve the 
persistently lowest-achieving schools.
    Finally, although we believe this recent history of failed school 
improvement efforts justifies using ARRA SIG funds to leverage the 
adoption of the more far-reaching reforms required by the four school 
intervention models, we note that Part A of Title I of the ESEA 
continues to make available nearly $15 billion annually, as well as an 
additional $10 billion in fiscal year 2009 through the ARRA, that SEAs 
and LEAs may use to develop and implement virtually any reform strategy 
that they believe will significantly improve student achievement and 
other important educational outcomes in Title I schools. In particular, 
we would applaud State

[[Page 65624]]

and local efforts to use existing Title I funds to scale up successful 
interventions or to build State and local capacity to develop and 
implement other promising school intervention models. For all of these 
reasons, we decline to add a fifth school intervention model to this 
notice.
    Changes: None.

Turnaround Model

Principal and Staff Replacement

    Comment: Many commenters opposed replacing principals and staff as 
part of the turnaround model. Although several commenters acknowledged 
that poor leadership and ineffective staff contribute to a school's low 
performance, a majority claimed that staff replacement has not been 
established as an effective reform strategy, others stated that such a 
strategy is not a realistic option in many communities that already 
face teacher and principal shortages, and one commenter suggested that 
replacement requirements associated with turnaround plans would 
discourage teachers and principals from working in struggling schools.
    In addition, many commenters opposed sanctioning principals and 
staff, partly because, as one commenter claimed, the turnaround model 
assumes that most problems in a school are attributable to these 
individuals. One stated that principals face ``trying'' circumstances 
and another stated that the proposed requirements ignore the ``vital 
role'' that principals play in high-need schools. These commenters 
stated that other factors--such as poverty, lack of proper support, and 
tenure and collective bargaining laws--should be addressed before 
decisions are made to replace principals and staff. One commenter 
claimed that principals and teachers in low-achieving schools could 
perform their jobs if they are given adequate training and support and 
working conditions are improved. Another opposed the replacement 
requirement because the commenter believed a stable and consistent 
staff is a key factor in school improvement.
    Discussion: We understand that replacing leadership and staff is 
one of the most difficult aspects of the four models; however, we also 
know that many of our lowest-achieving schools have failed to improve 
despite the repeated use of many of the strategies suggested by the 
commenters. The emphasis of the ARRA on turning around struggling 
schools also reflects, in part, an acknowledgement by the Congress that 
past efforts have had limited or no success in breaking the cycle of 
chronic educational failure in the Nation's persistently lowest-
achieving schools.
    Accordingly, the Department believes that dramatic and wholesale 
changes in leadership, staffing, and governance--such as those required 
by the turnaround model--are an appropriate intervention option for 
creating an entirely new school culture that breaks a system of 
institutionalized failure. Although we acknowledge the possibility that 
the turnaround model could discourage some principals and teachers from 
working in the lowest-achieving schools, others will likely be 
attracted by the opportunity to participate in a school turnaround with 
other committed staff. In addition, other Federal programs, such as the 
Teacher Incentive Fund and Race to the Top programs, are helping to 
create incentives and provide resources that can be used to attract and 
reward effective teachers and principals and improve strategies for 
recruitment, retention, and professional development.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters recommended changes to the 
principal and staff replacement requirements. One commenter proposed a 
detailed ``fifth model'' that focused upon providing additional support 
to teachers by improving working conditions, such as reducing class 
size and providing professional development opportunities. Others 
recommended (1) providing a principal with the autonomy to make his or 
her own firing and hiring decisions instead of requiring the 
replacement of 50 percent of the staff; (2) allowing staff to reapply 
for their positions; (3) retaining principals who were recently hired; 
(4) providing principals with a ``window'' of opportunity to improve 
their schools before being replaced; (5) suggesting that the 
replacement requirement extend to superintendents and boards of 
education; (6) retaining at least 50 percent of current staff who 
reapply and meet all of the requirements of the redesigned school; and 
(7) focusing on staff qualifications and putting in place effective 
staff rather than on a particular target level of replacements.
    Discussion: We agree with some of the changes to the turnaround 
model suggested by commenters. For example, new language in paragraph 
(a)(1)(i) of the turnaround model recognizes the vital role played by 
the principal and acknowledges that new principals need authority to 
make key changes required to turn around a failing school. Under this 
new language, the new principal of a turnaround school would have 
``sufficient operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars/
time, and budgeting) to implement fully a comprehensive approach to 
substantially improve student achievement outcomes and increase high 
school graduation rates.''
    We also recognize that the staff selected for a turnaround school 
must have the skill and expertise to be effective in this context. We 
are adding language clarifying that all personnel must be screened and 
selected based on locally adopted competencies to measure their 
effectiveness in a turnaround environment.
    In addition, while the SIG NPR would have required an LEA to 
replace at least 50 percent of the staff of a turnaround school, new 
paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(A) of the turnaround model requires an LEA, after 
screening all staff using locally adopted competencies, to rehire no 
more than 50 percent of the school's staff. Further, some commenters 
appear to have overlooked proposed section I.B.1 in the SIG NPR, which 
would give LEAs flexibility to continue implementing interventions 
begun within the last two years that meet, in whole or in part, the 
requirements of the turnaround, restart, or transformation models and, 
thus, would in many cases allow an LEA to retain a recently hired 
principal in a turnaround school. We are retaining this flexibility 
provision in this notice.
    Finally, the turnaround model includes significant provisions aimed 
at supporting teachers. For example, the SIG NPR called for ``ongoing, 
high-quality, job-embedded professional development to staff,'' as well 
as increased time for collaboration and professional development for 
staff. These supports for teachers and other staff are retained in this 
final notice.
    Changes: We have modified the provisions in the turnaround model in 
paragraph (a)(1)(i) to give the new principal of a turnaround school 
``sufficient operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars/
time, and budgeting) to implement fully a comprehensive approach in 
order to substantially improve student achievement outcomes and 
increase high school graduation rates.'' As described earlier, we have 
also revised paragraph (a)(1)(ii) to require that an LEA use locally 
adopted competencies to measure the effectiveness of staff who can work 
within the turnaround environment to meet the needs of students. In 
addition, instead of the requirement that an LEA replace ``at least 50 
percent of the staff'' in a turnaround school, paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(A) 
of the definition requires an

[[Page 65625]]

LEA to screen and rehire ``no more than 50 percent'' of the existing 
staff.
    Comment: Numerous commenters expressed concerns that a national 
shortage of principals and teachers would prevent successful 
implementation of the turnaround model. Two commenters stated that, in 
order to replace half of the staff as required by the turnaround model, 
an LEA would likely be forced to hire less experienced teachers and 
rely on emergency credentials or licensure to fully staff a turnaround 
school. One commenter claimed that research shows that large pools of 
available applicants are essential for successful replacement of 
principals and teachers. Another commenter stated that there is a 
``national shortage of transformational leaders'' who can lead 
turnaround schools. Further, many commenters claimed that replacing 
half of a school's staff would be difficult or even impossible in rural 
schools and small communities. One commenter asserted that the shortage 
of teachers in rural areas would disqualify these LEAs from applying 
for school improvement funds. Another stated that even with recruitment 
incentives it would be difficult to fill staff vacancies. One commenter 
urged the Secretary to take such shortages into account before 
requiring ``blanket firings'' of teachers. In addition, several 
commenters observed that chronically low-performing schools already 
suffer from a number of vacancies due to high staff turnover rates. In 
fact, one commenter believed replacing 50 percent of the staff was not 
a ``tough'' consequence because these schools already experience high 
turnover.
    These concerns led several commenters to recommend flexibility 
regarding the staff replacement requirement of the turnaround model, 
including the opportunity to request a waiver if an LEA could 
demonstrate an inability to fill vacancies, and a required evaluation 
before principals and staff can be replaced. Other commenters opposed 
the replacement of principals without consideration of such factors as 
years of experience and district-level support, recommended a three-
year window in which to make replacement decisions based upon multiple 
measures, and suggested the provision of high-quality professional 
development before replacing any staff.
    Discussion: We recognize that the replacement requirement will 
present challenges for LEAs, particularly in rural areas, where highly 
effective principals and teachers capable of leading educational 
transformation may be in short supply; however, the difficulty of 
identifying new qualified teachers and school leaders for a turnaround 
school must be measured against the enormous human and economic cost of 
accepting the status quo for the Nation's persistently lowest-achieving 
schools. We simply cannot afford to continue graduating hundreds of 
thousands of students annually who are unprepared for either further 
education or the workforce, or to permit roughly one million students 
to drop out of high school each year, many of them never to return to 
school. Instead, States and LEAs must work together to recruit, place, 
and retain the effective principals and staff needed to implement the 
turnaround model. The Department is supporting these efforts through 
Federal grant programs that can provide resources for improving 
strategies used to recruit effective principals and teachers, such as 
the Teacher Incentive Fund program, which helps increase the number of 
effective teachers teaching poor, minority, and disadvantaged students 
in hard-to-staff subjects and schools.
    Finally, we wish to clarify that the requirements for the 
turnaround model do not require ``blanket firings'' of staff. The 
Department agrees that staff should be carefully evaluated before any 
replacement decisions are made and has added new language requiring 
LEAs to use ``locally adopted competencies to measure the effectiveness 
of staff who can work within the turnaround environment to meet the 
needs of students.'' If required by State laws or union contracts, 
principals and staff may have to be reassigned to other schools as 
necessary.
    Changes: As described earlier, we have revised paragraph (a)(1)(ii) 
to require that an LEA use locally adopted competencies to measure the 
effectiveness of staff who can work within the turnaround environment 
to meet the needs of students. The LEA must then screen all existing 
staff before rehiring no more than 50 percent of them.
    Comment: Numerous commenters claimed that there is little research 
supporting the replacement of leadership and staff in school turnaround 
efforts. One commenter cited a 2008 Institute of Education Sciences 
(IES) report, ``Turning Around Chronically Low-Performing Schools,'' 
that, according to the commenter, recommends that decisions to remove 
staff should be made on an individual basis. Several others also 
asserted that the proposed requirement to replace at least 50 percent 
of staff was arbitrary, with two commenters recommending instead that 
the Department ``empower the turnaround principal with the autonomy to 
hire, based on merit, for every position in the school.''
    Discussion: We are not claiming that merely replacing a principal 
and 50 percent of a school's staff is sufficient to turn around a low-
achieving school. Although principal and staff replacement are key 
features of the turnaround model proposed in the SIG NPR, they are not 
the only features. The strength of the turnaround model lies in its 
comprehensive combination of significant staffing and governance 
changes, an improved instructional program, ongoing high-quality 
professional development, the use of data to drive continuous 
improvement, increased time for learning and for staff collaboration, 
and appropriate supports for students. The staffing and governance 
changes are intended primarily to create the conditions within a 
school, including school climate and culture, that will permit 
effective implementation of the other elements of the turnaround model. 
Dramatic changes in leadership, staff, and governance structure help 
lay the groundwork to create the conditions for autonomy and 
flexibility that are associated with successful turnaround efforts. 
Accordingly, we decline to remove the requirement for replacing staff 
in a turnaround model.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters claimed that teacher tenure, State 
collective bargaining laws, and union contracts prevent school 
administrators from replacing staff as required by the turnaround 
model. Several commenters stated that union contracts would force 
school administrators to reassign dismissed teaching staff to other 
schools, and the turnaround model would not solve the problem of 
removing ineffective teachers from the classroom. One commenter asked 
if an LEA would have to negotiate staff replacement with the union or 
if the Federal grant requirements supersede State due process laws. One 
commenter noted that the Department would have to provide ``involuntary 
transfer authority'' to LEAs in order for them to implement the 
turnaround model in collective bargaining States.
    Several commenters called for the Department to foster 
collaboration with teacher unions as well as the larger community. One 
of these commenters claimed that collaboration ``increases leadership 
and builds professionalism'' and recommended that evidence of 
collaboration be documented. Another asserted the involvement of 
school-based personnel in decision-making is key to the successful 
implementation of

[[Page 65626]]

school interventions. Another recommended that an LEA seek ``feedback'' 
from all stakeholders, including students, parents, and unions, as to 
whether an intervention is ``feasible or warranted.''
    Discussion: We recognize that collective bargaining agreements and 
union contracts may present barriers to implementation of the 
turnaround model; however, we do not believe these barriers are 
insurmountable. In particular, drawing upon pockets of success in 
cities and States across the country, the Secretary believes LEAs and 
unions can work together to bring about dramatic, positive changes in 
our persistently lowest-achieving schools. Accordingly, the Department 
encourages collaborations and partnerships between LEAs and teacher 
unions and teacher membership associations to resolve issues created by 
school intervention models in the context of existing collective 
bargaining agreements. We also encourage LEAs to collaborate with 
stakeholders in schools and in the larger community as they implement 
school interventions.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters stated that the term ``staff'' was not 
clearly defined. One commenter presumed it excluded maintenance, food 
services, and other support staff. Another stated that the Department 
should allow LEAs to develop their own definition of ``staff,'' and 
permit LEAs to determine whether non-instructional staff should be 
included in the replacement calculus. Two commenters also requested 
greater clarity regarding the meaning of ``new governance.''
    Discussion: We believe that, in high-achieving schools facing the 
most challenging of circumstances, every adult in the school 
contributes to the school's success, including the principal, teachers, 
non-certificated staff, custodians, security guards, food service 
staff, and others working in the school. Conversely, in a persistently 
lowest-achieving school, we believe that no single group of adults in 
the school is responsible for a culture of persistent failure. For this 
reason, our general guidance is that an LEA should define ``staff'' 
broadly in developing and implementing a turnaround model. The 
Department declines to define the term ``staff'' in this notice, but 
plans to issue guidance that will clarify this and other issues related 
to the turnaround model. As for the term ``governance,'' the language 
in paragraph (a)(1)(v) suggests a number of possible governance 
alternatives that may be adopted in the context of a turnaround model. 
The Department declines to provide a more specific definition in order 
to permit LEAs the flexibility needed to adopt a turnaround governance 
structure that meets their local needs and circumstances.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters asked that the Department consider the 
possible negative consequences of replacing staff on a school and 
community, with one commenter suggesting that replacing half of the 
staff could result in more damage ``to a fragile school than no change 
at all.'' Another commenter stated that maintaining a consistent staff 
is a key to school success.
    Discussion: The Secretary disagrees that implementing a turnaround 
model would be worse than ``no change at all.'' The schools that would 

implement a turnaround model have, by definition, persistently failed 
our children for years, and dramatic and fundamental change is 
warranted. In addition, as stated elsewhere in this notice, the 
commenters overlook the fact that the other options--the 
transformation, school closure, and restart models--do not require 
replacement of 50 percent of a school's staff. If an LEA believes that 
it cannot successfully meet the requirements of the turnaround model, 
we recommend that it consider one of the other three options.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Numerous commenters stated that decisions regarding school 
restructuring are best decided on the local, rather than the Federal, 
level. One commenter opposed the requirements for the turnaround model 
as being too prescriptive, and another recommended that the local 
school board be provided with the discretion to determine how best to 
implement the turnaround model. One commenter agreed that ``ineffective 
staff and leadership should be replaced in order for school improvement 
to work,'' but stated that the turnaround model's ``one-size-fits-all 
formula may not be the best approach for all schools.'' Two commenters 
specifically stated that the decision to remove a principal and staff 
should be determined by a local school board. Similarly, another 
commenter noted that decisions to replace a principal and staff should 
be based upon ``local data'' rather than Federal requirements that are 
not tailored to an individual school's needs. One of these commenters 
stated that local decision-making is particularly important if a school 
has been underperforming for a period longer than the ``principal's 
tenure or if the principal has begun a transformative process that 
could be harmed by a leadership change.''
    Discussion: An LEA is free to exercise local control and use local 
data and leadership to determine which of the four school intervention 
models to follow in turning around a persistently lowest-achieving 
school. However, after nearly a decade of broad State and local 
discretion in implementing, with little success, the school improvement 
provisions of the ESEA, the Department believes, for the purpose of 
this program, it is appropriate and necessary to limit that discretion 
and require the use of a carefully developed set of school intervention 
models in the Nation's lowest-achieving schools. In particular, the 
turnaround and transformation models include a combination of staffing, 
governance, and structural changes with specific comprehensive 
instructional reforms that the Department believes hold great promise 
for effective investment of the $3 billion provided for the SIG program 
by the ARRA.
    Changes: None.

Relationship Between Turnaround and Transformation Models

    Comment: Several commenters believed the turnaround model lacked 
sufficient detail and did not provide adequate direction to LEAs 
attempting to implement the model. In contrast, several commenters 
appreciated the level of detail contained in the transformation model 
and suggested that the turnaround model provide a similar level of 
detail. Some of these commenters recommended that the turnaround model 
incorporate some of the specific provisions contained in the 
transformation model. For example, one commenter suggested that the 
turnaround model include the transformation model's provisions 
regarding implementation of instructional changes. Another commenter 
specifically recommended that the turnaround model incorporate the 
transformation model's criteria for teacher effectiveness.
    Discussion: We agree that the turnaround model in the SIG NPR 
lacked clarity and potentially created confusion about whether 
applicants could draw upon permissible activities described in the 
transformation model. The Department did not intend to limit LEA 
discretion in adapting elements of the transformation model to the 
turnaround model. Accordingly, we are adding new language in paragraph 
(a)(2)(i) to clarify that an LEA implementing the turnaround model may 
implement any of the required and permissible activities under the 
transformation model.

[[Page 65627]]

    Changes: We have clarified in paragraph (a)(2)(i) that an LEA 
implementing a turnaround model may also implement other strategies 
such as ``[a]ny of the required and permissible activities under the 
transformation model.'' In addition, we have made changes in the 
turnaround model that correspond to changes we made in response to 
comments on the transformation model. The specific changes are noted 
subsequently in this notice in our discussion of comments on the 
transformation model.

Restart Model

    Comment: Many commenters opposed the restart model described in the 
SIG NPR because, they claimed, charter schools generally do not perform 
better than regular public schools. In particular, these commenters 
cited recent research from the Center for Research on Education 
Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University showing that fewer than one-
fifth of charter schools demonstrated gains in student achievement that 
exceeded those of traditional public schools. One commenter also 
mentioned a RAND study highlighting the low performance of charter 
schools in Texas and a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University 
showing that most EMO-operated schools were outperformed by traditional 
public schools. Most of these commenters proposed broadening or 
strengthening the restart option, but one commenter recommended 
removing it from the list of permitted school intervention models. One 
commenter claimed that, where charter schools had raised student 
achievement, in most cases it was attributable to high student 
attrition rates brought about by demanding school schedules and 
behavioral rules that did not work for all students. A few commenters 
noted either that some States do not allow charter schools or that the 
restart model would be unlikely to work in rural areas. Several 
commenters also opposed the restart model because it might displace 
students and disrupt existing efforts to build community schools; 
another commenter recommended that any planning and reorganization for 
a restart model take place during the school year, while students 
remain in the school, so that there would be no disruption in services 
if the school were closed and then reopened as a restart school.
    Discussion: We acknowledge that the available research on the 
effectiveness of charter schools in raising student achievement is 
mixed, that some State laws significantly limit the creation or 
expansion of charter schools, and that smaller communities, 
particularly in rural areas, may not have sufficient access to 
providers or teachers to support the creation of charter schools. 
However, there are many examples of high-quality charter schools, and 
the Secretary believes very strongly that high-achieving charter 
schools can be a significant educational resource in communities with 
chronically low-achieving regular public schools that have failed to 
improve after years of conventional turnaround efforts. Although they 
are not a ``silver bullet'' for failing schools or communities, a more 
balanced view of the results produced by charter schools suggests that 
they offer promising and proven options for breaking the cycle of 
educational failure and fully merit inclusion in the restart model.
    The Department also recognizes the concerns expressed by commenters 
about the potential disruption to students, parents, and communities 
that may be connected with a restart plan that involves closing and 
then reopening a school. To help address this concern, we are adding 
language to this notice allowing a school conversion--and not just 
closing and reopening a school--to qualify as an acceptable restart 
model.
    At the same time, the Department emphasizes that just as the 
restart model is one of four school intervention models supported by 
this notice, charter schools are just one option under the restart 
model. Contracting with an EMO is another restart option that may 
provide sufficient flexibility in States without charter school laws or 
in rural areas where few charter schools operate. An EMO also may be 
able to develop and implement a plan that permits students to stay in 
their school while undergoing a restart. For example, some EMOs hired 
to turn around a low-achieving school may begin planning for the 
turnaround in late winter or early spring, hire and train staff in late 
spring and early summer, reconfigure and re-equip the school--including 
the acquisition of curricular materials and technology--during the 
summer, and then reopen promptly in the fall, resulting in minimal, if 
any, disruption to students and parents.
    Changes: We have changed the language in paragraph (b) to define a 
restart model as one in which an LEA converts a school or closes and 
reopens a school under a charter school operator, a charter management 
organization (CMO), or an EMO that has been selected through a rigorous 
review process.

Defining Rigorous Review

    Comment: Several commenters supported the requirement in the SIG 
NPR that LEAs select a charter school operator, a CMO, or an EMO 
through a ``rigorous review process.'' In general, these commenters 
viewed this requirement as essential to ensuring the quality of a 
restart model. Commenters also asked for clarification of how such a 
review would be conducted, including guidance for SEAs and LEAs and 
opportunities for parent and community involvement in reviewing and 
selecting a restart school operator. One commenter raised a concern 
about how it would be possible to review rigorously a new charter 
school operator, CMO, or EMO.
    Discussion: We believe that SEAs and LEAs should have flexibility 
to develop their own review processes for charter school operators, 
CMOs, and EMOs, based both on local circumstances and on their 
experiences in authorizing charter schools. We will provide guidance 
and technical assistance in this area, but will leave final decisions 
on review requirements to SEAs and LEAs. We believe flexibility in 
defining ``rigorous review'' is warranted because of the wide variation 
in local need and community context as well as in the size, structure, 
and experience of charter school operators, CMOs, and EMOs.
    Changes: None.

Clarifying Restart Operator Definitions

    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department provide a 
definition of CMO and EMO, while other commenters suggested changes or 
requested clarification of the definitions of CMO and EMO provided in 
the SIG NPR. One commenter recommended defining a CMO as an 
organization that ``operates or manages a school or schools'' rather 
than, as in the SIG NPR, ``operates charter schools.'' This commenter 
also urged the Department to define ``whole school operations'' as 
applied to the definition of EMO. Another commenter recommended that 
the Department include charter schools operated or managed by an LEA in 
the definition of CMO. One commenter also urged the Department to 
establish reporting requirements for CMOs and EMOs, including data on 
student achievement, the impact of reforms on student achievement, 
information on how CMOs and EMOs serve students with disabilities, and 
other accountability data. Finally, two commenters also suggested that 
the Department award funding directly to CMOs and EMOs to

[[Page 65628]]

pay for planning, outreach, and training staff for a restart effort.
    Discussion: We included definitions of CMO and EMO in the preamble 
of the SIG NPR and are adding these definitions in the definition of 
restart model for clarification purposes. We agree that the definition 
of CMO should include organizations that operate or manage charter 
schools and have made this change to the CMO definition in this notice 
accordingly. Although a charter school may exist as part of an LEA, it 
is unlikely that the LEA would be responsible for operating or managing 
the charter school. Therefore, we have not expressly included LEAs in 
the definition of CMO. We are retaining the EMO definition from the SIG 
NPR, and believe the emphasis on ``whole-school operation'' is 
sufficient to distinguish EMOs from other providers that may help with 
certain specific aspects of school operation and management, but that 
do not assume full responsibility for the entire school, as is required 
by the restart model.
    The Department does not believe it is necessary to add new or 
additional reporting requirements for EMOs and CMOs, as their 
performance will be captured by the reporting metrics established in 
the final SIG notice. More specifically, SEAs and LEAs already must 
report on the intervention model used for each persistently lowest-
achieving school, as well as outcome data for those schools, including 
outcome data disaggregated by student subgroups. As for providing SIG 
funding directly to CMOs and EMOs, the SIG program is a State formula 
grant program, and the Department must allocate funds to States in 
accordance with the requirements of section 1003(g) of the ESEA. 
Moreover, the only eligible SIG subgrantees are LEAs.
    Changes: We have included the definitions of CMO and EMO in the 
definition of restart model. We have also modified the definition of 
CMO slightly to reflect the fact that a CMO may either operate or 
manage charter schools.

Flexibility Under the Restart Model

    Comment: Several commenters recommended greater flexibility for 
LEAs implementing the restart model, including options to create magnet 
schools or ``themed'' schools. Another commenter, claiming that few 
charter school operators, CMOs, or EMOs have experience in ``whole 
school takeover,'' recommended permitting a phase-in approach to 
charter schools that would allow a charter school operator to start 
with two or three early grades and gradually ``take over'' an entire 
school.
    Discussion: We believe that considerable flexibility regarding the 
type of school program offered is inherent in the restart model, which 
focuses on management and not on academic or curricular requirements. 
For example, restart operators would be free to create ``themed'' 
schools, so long as those schools permit enrollment, within the grades 
they serve, of any former student who wishes to attend. Additionally, 
LEAs have the flexibility to work with providers to develop the 
appropriate sequence and timetable for a restart partnership. Whether 
through ``phase-in'' models or complete conversions, the Department 
encourages SEAs and LEAs to take into account local context and need in 
making these decisions.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters asked for clarification regarding various 
aspects of the restart model, including whether it includes conversion 
of existing schools, who would have authority over the operator of 
restart schools (e.g., LEA, SEA, independent governing board, or a 
State or local authorizer), and whether a group of individuals (e.g., 
teachers) could manage a restart school.
    Discussion: We have changed the definition of restart model to 
clarify that it includes conversion of an existing school and not just 
strategies involving closing and reopening a school. In particular, we 
believe that conversion approaches may permit implementation of a 
restart model with minimal disruption for students, parents, and 
communities. In general, an LEA would be responsible for authorizing or 
contracting with charter school operators, CMOs, or EMOs for 
implementation of a restart model. The precise form of this contract or 
agreement would be up to State or local authorities and could include 
each of the alternatives mentioned by the commenters. However, 
regardless of the lines of authority, autonomy and freedom to operate 
independently from the State or LEA are essential elements of the 
restart model. A group of individuals, including teachers, would be 
eligible to manage a restart school so long as they met the local 
requirements of the rigorous review process included in the restart 
model.
    Changes: We have revised the first sentence of the definition of 
restart model to read as follows: ``A restart model is one in which an 
LEA converts a school or closes and reopens a school under a charter 
school operator, a charter management organization (CMO), or an 
education management organization (EMO) that has been selected through 
a rigorous review process.''
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department include 
specific elements of the turnaround and transformation models in the 
restart model, including improved curricula and instruction, student 
supports, extended learning time, community involvement, and partnering 
with community-based organizations. Similarly, one commenter noted that 
a restart model might permit a school to reopen as a charter school 
while changing little inside the school and urged the Department to 
require restart schools to use a model of reform that has been proven 
effective or that includes evidence-based strategies. Another commenter 
urged the Department to encourage use of the restart model to better 
serve high-risk students and help dropouts reconnect to school.
    Discussion: We note that restart models could include nearly all of 
the specific reform elements identified under the turnaround and 
transformation models, but decline to require the use of any particular 
element or strategy. The restart model is specifically intended to give 
operators flexibility and freedom to implement their own reform plans 
and strategies. The required rigorous review process permits an LEA to 
examine those plans and strategies--and helps prevent an operator from 
assuming control of a school without a meaningful plan for turning it 
around--but should not involve mandating or otherwise requiring 
specific reform activities. However, the review process may require 
operators to demonstrate that their strategies are informed by research 
and other evidence of past success.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended requiring the review process for 
CMOs and EMOs to include curriculum and staffing plans for meeting the 
needs of subgroups of students, including students with disabilities 
and limited English proficient students. Another commenter suggested 
that the review process include examining the extent to which a restart 
operator sought to ensure that restart schools would serve all former 
students by requiring States to collect data on the number of students 
from low-income families, students with disabilities, and limited 
English proficient students served by a restart school compared with 
the number of those students served by the school it replaced.
    Discussion: Restart operators, by definition, have almost complete

[[Page 65629]]

freedom to develop and implement their own curricula and staffing 
plans, and the Department declines to place limits in this area in 
recognition of the core emphasis of the restart model on outcomes 
rather than inputs. The requirement to enroll any former student who 
wishes to attend the school will help to ensure that charter school 
operators, CMOs, and EMOs include serving all existing groups of 
students in their restart plans. Moreover, the effectiveness of these 
curricula and staff changes in meeting the needs of subgroups of 
students, including students with disabilities and limited English 
proficient students, will be measured by the metrics in the final SIG 
notice, which will include disaggregated achievement data by student 
subgroup. We encourage SEAs and LEAs to analyze these data to ensure 
that subgroups of students are properly included in restart schools and 
that their needs are addressed.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters expressed concern that charter schools 
are not subject to the same oversight, regulation, or accountability as 
are regular public schools. Other commenters emphasized the importance, 
particularly in the case of charter school conversions, of ensuring 
autonomy, flexibility, and freedom from district rules and collective 
bargaining agreements, so that charter schools can implement their own 
cultures and practices.
    Discussion: The restart model is specifically intended to give 
providers freedom from the rules and regulations governing regular 
public schools, in recognition of the fact that, while such rules and 
regulations may be effective in requiring certain kinds of inputs, such 
as teacher qualification requirements or a uniform length of the school 
day or year, they have not been demonstrated to have a significant 
impact on educational outcomes. Moreover, many successful charter 
schools have achieved outstanding results by changing these inputs, 
such as by hiring non-traditional but skilled teachers and by extending 
the length of the school day. The Department believes that the outcome 
metrics established in the final SIG notice will ensure accountability 
for the performance of restart schools.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that LEAs could use the 
restart model to close an existing charter school that, while 
successful in raising student achievement, remained in school 
improvement status under section 1116 of the ESEA.
    Discussion: An existing charter school that is raising student 
achievement would be unlikely, under the requirements for identifying a 
State's persistently lowest-achieving schools, to be identified for 
school intervention, because those requirements include not only low 
levels of achievement, but also making little or no progress on 
improving those low levels of achievement in recent years. Moreover, 
this notice, as did the SIG NPR, provides flexibility for a school, 
such as a recently converted charter school that meets the requirements 
of the restart model, to use SIG funds to continue or complete reforms 
it began within the prior two years. On the other hand, it is possible, 
and in some cases appropriate, for an LEA to close a charter school 
that is not serving its students well and implement a new intervention 
model in the school.
    Changes: None.

School Closure

    Comment: A number of commenters expressed their general views 
regarding whether closing schools is an appropriate intervention for 
raising student achievement. Although no commenter advocated extensive 
use of this intervention, several acknowledged that school closure is 
sometimes necessary, particularly for schools with a long history of 
very low achievement, and noted that some States and LEAs have used 
this strategy successfully. Other commenters, however, expressed a 
number of logistical concerns with this intervention. Some noted that 
closing schools is often not feasible in rural areas in which the 
distance between schools is too great to make practical enrolling 
students from a closed school in higher-achieving schools. Others noted 
that many LEAs do not have multiple schools at the same grade level in 
which to enroll students from a closed school. Still others noted 
capacity issues that would prevent schools from accommodating 
additional students or the lack of high-achieving schools in which to 
enroll students from a closed school. One commenter noted that this 
intervention would not be feasible on a large scale in large, urban 
LEAs with limited resources and substantial numbers of low-achieving 
students. Another commenter recommended that this intervention be 
limited to those LEAs with the capacity to enroll affected students in 
other, higher-achieving schools.
    Discussion: School closure is just one of four school intervention 
models from which an LEA may choose to turn around or close its 
persistently lowest-achieving schools, and the Department recognizes 
that it may not be appropriate or workable in all circumstances. To 
clarify this, we have revised the definition of school closure in this 
notice to clarify that this option is viable when there are re-
enrollment options in higher-achieving schools in the LEA that are 
within reasonable proximity to the closed school that can accommodate 
the students from the closed school. To make this option more viable, 
we have changed ``high-achieving schools'' to ``higher-achieving 
schools.''
    Changes: We have included the following clarifying language in the 
definition of school closure: ``School closure occurs when an LEA 
closes a school and enrolls the students who attended that school in 
other schools in the LEA that are higher achieving. These other schools 
should be within reasonable proximity to the closed school and may 
include, but are not limited to, charter schools or new schools for 
which achievement data are not yet available.''
    Comment: A number of commenters expressed the opinion that a school 
should never be closed if that option displaces students and disrupts 
communities. The commenters noted the importance of having a 
neighborhood school that serves as the cornerstone of a community. One 
commenter noted that, when students are moved to a school in a new 
neighborhood, parents often find it more difficult to feel a sense of 
belonging at the school or ownership of their child's education. 
Another commenter noted that school closings often anger parents, 
exacerbate overcrowding, increase safety and security concerns in 
neighboring schools, and place students who need specific supports in 
schools that may not be able to provide those supports. One commenter 
expressed concern that closing a school may not address the educational 
needs of specific students, which may be masked within a higher-
achieving school. Another commenter suggested the need for an 
``educational impact statement'' before a school is closed, and one 
suggested that an LEA have a detailed plan demonstrating how support 
would be provided to students and their families transitioning to 
different schools. Several commenters suggested that the final 
requirements provide for parent and community input before a school is 
closed.
    Discussion: The Department recognizes and understands that school 
closures, by definition, displace students and disrupt communities and 
are among the most difficult decisions

[[Page 65630]]

faced by local authorities. However, each of the four school 
intervention models is predicated on the potentially positive impact of 
``disruptive change'' on student educational opportunities, 
achievement, and other related outcomes. Schools targeted for closure 
under this notice will likely have served their communities poorly for 
many years, if not decades, as measured by such factors as student 
achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment rates. Moreover, 
such schools also will likely have proven impervious to positive change 
despite years of identification for improvement, corrective action, or 
restructuring under the ESEA as well as other previous reform efforts. 
The Department believes that, when such schools prove unwilling or 
unable to change, closure must be considered. Many communities have 
experience in closing, consolidating, or otherwise changing the 
structure of their existing schools and have their own processes and 
procedures for obtaining public input and approval for such changes, 
including assessment of the impact on students, families, 
neighborhoods, other schools, and transportation requirements, as well 
as for developing plans to facilitate smooth transitions for everyone 
involved. Although the Department encourages LEAs and SEAs to involve 
students, parents, educators, the community, and other stakeholders in 
the process, we decline to add any additional requirements in this area 
of appropriate local discretion.
    To address the disruptiveness school closure may cause to a 
community, we have modified the definition of school closure, as noted 
in response to the prior comment, to clarify that closure should entail 
re-enrolling students from the closed school in other schools in the 
LEA that are within reasonable proximity to the closed school. Finally, 
we note that school closure is just one of the four school intervention 
models available under the terms of this notice. LEAs and communities 
that wish to preserve a neighborhood school may do so by implementing a 
turnaround, restart, or transformation model.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that a school not be closed 
unless an LEA opens a new school in its place. One commenter 
specifically suggested closing a school in phases and reopening it as a 
new school. Under this concept, an LEA would permit both students and 
staff who choose to do so to remain in the school but the school would 
enroll no new students. At the same time, according to the commenter, 
other schools would be better prepared to absorb students who wish to 
transfer, logistical and facility issues would be minimized, and the 
new school would have adequate time to recruit and train high-quality 
staff and develop its instructional program.
    Discussion: The Department has revised the language in the 
definition of school closure to recognize the need to have available 
options for accommodating the educational needs of the students in a 
closed school, but does not believe it is necessary to require an LEA 
to open a new school in place of the closed school. Many LEAs 
participating in the SIG program have under-utilized or under-enrolled 
schools that may readily accommodate students from a closed school; 
requiring such LEAs to open new schools simply does not make sense. 
However, an LEA that chooses to reopen a new school would be free to do 
so, either on its own or as part of a turnaround or restart model.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department provide 
incentives for the development of successful charter schools in the 
areas in which schools are closed. Specifically, the commenter 
recommended that the Department require that an LEA that partners with 
a CMO in order to serve the area in which the LEA is closing schools 
receive a priority for SIG funds.
    Discussion: SIG funds are intended to provide support to LEAs for 
school improvement efforts targeted primarily at the persistently 
lowest-achieving schools in a State, and not at providing incentives 
for the creation of new schools, charter or otherwise, that serve the 
same general attendance area. However, the restart model (as defined in 
this notice) may be used by LEAs in situations where the goal is to 
replace a persistently lowest-achieving school with a charter school.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that, in highlighting which 
schools may be available to enroll students from a closed school, the 
Department specifically mention magnet schools along with charter 
schools.
    Discussion: Decisions about the schools to which students from 
closed schools may transfer are best left to the LEAs selecting the 
school closure option. The language in the definition of school 
closure, as in the SIG NPR, specifically mentions charter schools only 
because not all available charter schools might be operated by the LEA 
that is closing a neighborhood public school and, thus, might not be 
initially included in an LEA's plan for transferring students from the 
closed school. This is not a concern for magnet schools and, thus, the 
Department declines to make the requested change.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department require 
that, before an LEA may enroll students from a closed school in another 
school, the LEA require a prospective receiving school, including a 
charter school, to demonstrate a record of effectiveness in educating 
its existing students and the capacity to integrate and educate new 
students from closed schools. The commenter emphasized the importance 
of this latter point, noting that merely because a school is high-
achieving does not mean that it is equipped to help additional students 
from the lowest-achieving schools succeed while maintaining the quality 
of its current educational program.
    Discussion: The Department believes that the requirement to enroll 
students from a closed school in a higher-achieving school responds to 
the concerns of this commenter. The Department believes that such 
higher-achieving schools are likely in nearly all circumstances, to 
provide a better education for any new students than was available in 
the closed school.
    Changes: We have added language to the definition of school closure 
clarifying that school closure entails re-enrolling students from the 
closed school in other schools in the LEA that are higher achieving. We 
have also added clarifying language that such schools may be new 
schools for which achievement data are not available.
    Comment: Several commenters questioned how SIG funds may be used in 
closing a school. One commenter noted the importance of gaining 
community input and that the costs for closing a school may include 
costs associated with conducting parent and community meetings. Another 
commenter recommended that allowable costs include academic supports 
for struggling students who are enrolled in new schools.
    Discussion: LEAs may use SIG funds to pay reasonable and necessary 
costs related to closing a persistently lowest-achieving school, 
including the costs associated with parent and community outreach. 
However, SIG funds may not be used to serve students, struggling or 
otherwise, in the schools to which they transfer, unless those schools 
are Title I schools. The Department will include additional examples of 
permissible uses of SIG funds in closing a school in guidance 
accompanying the application package for SIG funds.
    Changes: None.

[[Page 65631]]

Transformation Model

General Comments

    Comment: Many commenters expressed strong support for the 
transformation model. One commenter, for example, described it as ``a 
balanced, comprehensive approach,'' and another described it as ``a 
supportive and constructive approach.'' Still another commenter stated 
that it ``provides the greatest hope for promoting genuine school 
improvement.'' Several commenters noted that the transformation model 
would be, in reality, the only choice among the four proposed 
interventions, especially for many rural school districts.
    A few commenters responded that the transformation model would 
still not enable some communities, particularly those with difficult 
demographics, to make adequate yearly progress. Other commenters 
worried that, if not monitored carefully, the transformation model 
would become like the ``other'' restructuring option under section 
1116(b)(8)(B)(v) of the ESEA, perceived as the easiest (but least 
meaningful) way to intervene in a struggling school. One of these 
commenters recommended adding strong language to make clear that the 
transformation model is not an incremental approach and that, except in 
the area of changing staff, the model is as rigorous as the turnaround 
model.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' support. We believe the 
transformation model holds tremendous promise for reforming 
persistently lowest-achieving schools by developing and increasing 
teacher and school leader effectiveness, implementing comprehensive 
instructional reform strategies, increasing learning time and creating 
community-oriented schools, and providing operating flexibility and 
sustained support. Assuming the activities that support these 
components are implemented with fidelity, the transformation model 
represents a rigorous and wholesale approach to reforming a struggling 
school, unlike the manner in which the ``other'' restructuring option 
in section 1116 of the ESEA has often been implemented.
    Changes: To strengthen the transformation model, we have made a 
number of changes that we discuss in the following paragraphs in our 
responses to specific comments.
    Comment: One commenter recommended affording greater flexibility to 
LEAs in implementing the transformation model by allowing them to 
choose which activities are ``required'' and which are ``permissible'' 
within the four components. The commenter noted that LEAs with 
persistently lowest-achieving schools may not have the teacher or 
leader capacity or system to support, monitor, and sustain reforms 
across all of their schools. The commenter advocated for creating 
systems at the district level that enable LEAs to provide support at 
each school.
    Discussion: We decline to make the requested changes. We have 
carefully reviewed the required activities within the four components 
of the transformation model and have concluded that each is necessary 
to ensure the rigor and effectiveness of the model; therefore, we 
continue to require each one. An LEA, of course, may implement any or 
all of the permissible activities as well as other activities not 
described in this notice.
    In anticipation of receiving unprecedented amounts of SIG funds, 
SEAs and LEAs should begin now to plan for how they can use those funds 
most effectively by putting in place the systems and conditions 
necessary to support reform in their persistently lowest-achieving 
schools. Despite the best preparation, however, we know that not every 
LEA with persistently lowest-achieving schools has the capacity to 
implement one of the four interventions in this notice in each such 
school. As indicated in the SIG NPR, therefore, an LEA that lacks the 
capacity to implement an intervention in each persistently lowest-
achieving school may apply to the SEA to implement an intervention in 
just some of those schools.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended adding ``graduation rates,'' 
rated equally with test scores, to assess student achievement in 
evaluating staff, ensuring that a school's curriculum is implemented 
with fidelity, and providing operating flexibility. The commenter also 
recommended making increasing graduation rates a required activity.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that increasing high-school 
graduation rates is vital to improving student achievement, 
particularly in our Nation's ``dropout factories.'' We are, 
accordingly, adding increasing high school graduation rates in three 
provisions of the transformation model to make clear that it is also a 
goal of the interventions in this notice. We are also making a 
corresponding change in the turnaround model. In addition, we are 
defining ``persistently lowest-achieving schools'' to include high 
schools that have had a graduation rate below 60 percent over a number 
of years. Through these changes, we hope to identify high schools with 
low graduation rates that would implement one of the interventions in 
this notice.
    Changes: We have added increasing high school graduation rates in 
three provisions of the transformation model: paragraphs 
(d)(1)(i)(B)(1); (d)(1)(i)(C); and (d)(4)(i)(A). We also made a 
corresponding change to the turnaround model in paragraph (a)(1)(i). In 
addition, we have included high schools that have had a graduation rate 
below 60 percent over a number of years in the definition of 
persistently lowest-achieving schools.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department require an 
LEA to set up an organizational entity within the LEA to be responsible 
and held accountable for rapid improvement in student achievement in 
schools implementing the transformation model in order to ``expedite 
the clearing of bureaucratic underbrush'' that can impede the model's 
effectiveness.
    Discussion: Although nothing in this notice would preclude an LEA 
from establishing an organizational entity responsible for ensuring 
rapid improvement in student achievement in schools implementing the 
transformation model, we decline to require the establishment of such 
an entity. Evidence of an LEA's commitment to support its schools in 
carrying out the required elements of the transformation model is a 
factor that an SEA must consider in evaluating the LEA's application 
for SIG funds.
    Changes: None.

Developing and Increasing Teacher and School Leader Effectiveness

    Comment: A number of commenters supported the emphasis in the 
transformation model on strong principals and teachers, noting that 
they are critical to transforming a low-achieving school. Commenters 
cited specific provisions that they supported, such as ongoing, high-
quality job-embedded professional development; strategies to recruit, 
place, and retain effective staff; increasing rigor through, for 
example, early-college high schools; extending learning time; 
emphasizing community-oriented schools; increased operating 
flexibility; and sustained support from the LEA and SEA.
    Discussion: The Secretary appreciates the commenters' support.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested adding the word ``ensuring'' in 
the heading of the component of the transformation model that requires 
developing teacher and school leader effectiveness. Another suggested 
changing the heading to ``providing

[[Page 65632]]

teachers and school leaders with the resources and tools needed to be 
effective.''
    Discussion: We decline to make these changes. First, we do not 
believe that a school can ensure teacher and school leader 
effectiveness. We do believe, however, that a school can take steps to 
improve teacher and leader effectiveness. Second, we note that eligible 
schools in LEAs that receive SIG funds--all of which are among the 
lowest-achieving schools in a State--will have very large amounts of 
resources to implement the transformation model or one of the other 
school intervention models. Accordingly, we do not believe lack of 
resources will be a barrier for reforming the persistently lowest-
achieving schools in a State. Moreover, there is a significant 
requirement that an LEA provide ongoing, high-quality, job-embedded 
professional development for all staff in a school implementing the 
transformation model. Principals, teachers, and school leaders, 
therefore, should have sufficient support to do their jobs.
    Changes: We have revised the heading in paragraph (d)(1) to read: 
``Developing and improving teacher and school leader effectiveness.''
    Comment: Many commenters, many of whom were principals or 
represented principals, opposed the requirement to replace the 
principal. A number of commenters commented that such a decision should 
be made locally, based on local data and circumstances in individual 
schools, rather than being mandated by the Federal Government. One 
commenter, although acknowledging the importance of effective school 
leadership, asserted that a school's underperformance should not 
necessarily be blamed on the principal. The commenter cited other 
salient factors, such as whether the principal has the authority needed 
to turn a school around or whether the principal is laying a foundation 
for improvements not yet reflected in test scores. One commenter 
suggested that a principal not be removed until the principal's 
performance has been reviewed. Others suggested that, rather than 
replacing the principal immediately, the requirements permit an LEA to 
offer comprehensive support and leadership training for school leaders 
and other staff to assist them in making the significant changes needed 
to transform a school. Several commenters suggested removing the 
principal unless the person commits to and is held accountable for a 
turnaround plan that requires, for example, working with a partner 
management organization or other entity skilled in turning around 
struggling schools. Another commenter suggested permitting flexibility 
with respect to removing the principal in cases warranted by, for 
example, the size and geography of a school or LEA, the cause of the 
academic failure, the specific solutions being sought, or other 
barriers to removal.
    Discussion: We refer readers to the earlier section of these 
comments and responses titled ``Principal and Staff Replacement'' in 
which we respond to similar public comments about the principal 
replacement requirement under the turnaround model.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended a three-pronged approach to 
defining principal effectiveness: Evidence of improved student 
achievement; changes in the number and percentage of teachers rated as 
effective and highly effective; and assessment of a principal's highest 
priority actions and practices.
    Discussion: Generally, the Department agrees that multiple 
measures, including the use of student achievement data, should be used 
to evaluate principal effectiveness. Accordingly, we have revised 
proposed section I.A.2.d.i.A.1 in the SIG NPR (new paragraph 
(d)(1)(i)(B)(1) to allow an LEA to use, in addition to data on student 
growth, observation-based assessments and ongoing collections of 
professional practice that reflect student achievement and increased 
high-school graduation rates to evaluate principal effectiveness.
    Changes: We have modified paragraph (d)(1)(i)(B)(1) regarding 
evaluation systems for teachers and principals to require that those 
systems take into account student growth data as a significant factor 
as well as other factors ``such as multiple observation-based 
assessments of performance and ongoing collections of professional 
practice reflective of student achievement and increased high-school 
graduation rates.''
    Comment: Several commenters cited the shortage of principals, 
particularly in rural areas, as a reason to eliminate the requirement 
to remove the principal in a school using the transformation model. One 
commenter suggested hiring a ``turnaround leader'' or contracting with 
an external lead partner instead of replacing the principal.
    Discussion: We refer readers to the earlier section of these 
comments and responses titled ``Principal and Staff Replacement'' where 
we respond to public comments about the principal replacement 
requirement under the turnaround model.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters suggested that a principal who has 
been recently hired to turn around a school should not be removed.
    Discussion: The commenters might have overlooked the fact that 
proposed section I.B.1 in the SIG NPR allowed schools that have 
``implemented, in whole or in part within the last two years, an 
intervention that meets the requirements of the turnaround, restart, or 
transformation models'' to ``continue or complete the intervention 
being implemented.'' Thus, a recently hired principal who was hired to 
implement a school intervention model that meets some or all of the 
elements of one of the interventions in this notice would not have to 
be replaced for purposes of a transformation model. We have retained 
this flexibility in this notice.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters reacted to the requirement in the SIG NPR 
to use evaluations that are based in significant measure on student 
growth to improve teachers' and school leaders' performance. A few 
commenters supported the requirement; most opposed it for a number of 
reasons. Many commenters objected specifically to assessing teacher 
effectiveness using testing instruments not designed for that purpose. 
One commenter noted that standardized assessments are designed to 
measure students' ready retrieval of knowledge and do not accurately 
attribute student learning to particular lessons, pedagogical 
strategies, or individual teachers. In addition, the commenter noted 
that such assessments do not measure qualities like student motivation, 
intellectual readiness, persistence, creativity, or the ability to 
apply knowledge and work productively with others. One commenter 
asserted that State assessments are generally of low quality and 
measure a narrow range of student learning. The commenter also noted 
that assessments do not acknowledge the contributions (or lack thereof) 
of others, such as prior teachers, towards student achievement. Two 
commenters argued that State assessments do not provide information 
about the conditions in which learning occurs and over which a teacher 
has no control, such as class size, student demographics, or 
instructional resources. One commenter asserted that State assessments 
fail to capture academic growth with respect to students with 
disabilities. A number of commenters proposed other academic and 
nonacademic measures for evaluating teachers and school leaders, such 
as standards-based evaluations of practice that include such criteria 
as

[[Page 65633]]

observations of lesson preparation, content, and delivery; innovation 
in teaching practices; analyses of student work and other measures of 
student learning, such as writing samples, grades, goals in 
individualized education programs for students with disabilities, and 
``capstone'' projects such as end-of-course research papers; assessment 
of commitment and ability to use feedback and data to learn and improve 
practices; one-on-one teaching; staff leadership and mentoring skills; 
conflict resolution skills; crisis management experience; extra-
curricular roles and contributions to a school; and relationships with 
parents and the community.
    Discussion: We respect and agree with the commenters' concerns that 
student achievement data alone should not be used as the sole means to 
evaluate teachers and principals. We must develop and support better 
measures that take into account student achievement and more accurately 
measure teacher and principal performance. Accordingly, we have revised 
the transformation model's evaluation systems provision to require that 
these systems take into account student growth data as a significant 
factor, but also include other factors ``such as multiple observation-
based assessments of performance and ongoing collections of 
professional practice reflective of student achievement and increased 
high-school graduation rates.'' We have also clarified that those 
systems must be rigorous, transparent, and equitable and that they must 
be designed and developed with teacher and principal involvement.
    Nonetheless, it is important to note that the Secretary believes 
that student achievement data must be included as a significant factor 
in evaluations of teacher and principal effectiveness. We are confident 
that the legitimate concerns of the commenters regarding use of student 
data can be addressed.
    Changes: We have modified paragraph (d)(1)(i)(B) regarding 
evaluation systems for teachers and principals in several respects. 
First, we modified paragraph (d)(1)(i)(B) to require that evaluation 
systems be rigorous, transparent, and equitable. Second, we modified 
paragraph (d)(1)(i)(B)(1) to require that those systems take into 
account student growth data as a significant factor but also include 
other factors ``such as multiple observation-based assessments of 
performance and ongoing collections of professional practice reflective 
of student achievement and increased high school graduation rates.'' 
Third, we added paragraph (d)(1)(i)(B)(2) to require that evaluation 
systems be designed and developed with teacher and principal 
involvement.
    Comment: A number of commenters raised issues related to collective 
bargaining and the transformation model. Several commenters objected to 
the perceived requirement to establish a performance pay plan based on 
student outcomes, noting that collective bargaining agreements and, in 
some cases, State laws often prohibit such a plan. Two others noted 
that, because union contracts limit a principal's control over 
staffing, principals should not be held accountable for school 
performance results. At least one commenter expressed concern that 
these collective bargaining barriers could preclude implementation of 
the transformation model.
    Discussion: In general, we refer readers to the earlier section of 
these comments and responses titled ``Principal and Staff Replacement'' 
where we respond to similar public comments regarding collective 
bargaining as it relates to the turnaround model. In addition, we note 
that the transformation model does not require that an LEA establish a 
performance pay plan for teachers or principals. Rather, an LEA must 
identify and reward school leaders, teachers, and other staff who, in 
implementing the transformation model, have increased student 
achievement and graduation rates. One way of meeting this requirement 
would be through performance pay. An LEA has the flexibility to devise 
other means that meet this requirement.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter, responding to the proposed requirement to 
remove staff who fail to contribute to raising student achievement, 
recommended that this provision be deleted. The commenter noted that 
this provision would make it very difficult to attract the most highly 
qualified teachers and principals to the persistently lowest-achieving 
schools. The commenter suggested that extensive professional 
development, rather than removal, be required for staff in schools in 
which achievement does not improve.
    Discussion: In general, we refer readers to the section of these 
comments and responses titled ``Principal and Staff Replacement'' where 
we respond to similar comments regarding removal of the staff 
replacement requirement under the turnaround model.
    Changes: We have modified paragraph (d)(1)(i)(C) regarding removing 
staff who, in implementing a transformation model, have not contributed 
to increased student achievement and high school graduation rates to 
make clear that removal should only occur after an individual has had 
multiple opportunities to improve his or her professional practice and 
has still not contributed to increased student achievement and 
increased high school graduation rates.
    Comment: Several commenters objected to the Secretary's proposal to 
require an LEA to make ``high-stakes'' tenure and compensation 
decisions through which the LEA would ``identify and reward school 
leaders, teachers, and other staff who improve student achievement 
outcomes and identify and remove those who do not.'' The commenters 
thought this standard was too imprecise. They noted that teacher 
compensation, tenure, and dismissal are, for the most part, governed by 
State laws and/or collective bargaining agreements that cannot be 
simply overturned by a Federal grant program. One of the commenters 
suggested that this provision be modified by adding, at the end, the 
phrase ``in full accordance with local and State laws, including 
collective bargaining agreements.''
    Discussion: In general, we refer readers to the section of these 
comments and responses titled ``Principal and Staff Replacement'' where 
we respond to similar comments regarding collective bargaining issues 
as they relate to the turnaround model. In addition, we note that no 
LEA is required to apply for a School Improvement Grant. Those that do 
will receive significant resources to support their efforts to reform 
their most struggling schools, but they also must have the ability to 
implement the required components of whichever intervention they 
choose. Accordingly, we decline to make the recommended changes.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters provided additional examples of 
what professional development of staff under the transformation model 
should entail, such as: Addressing the needs of students with 
disabilities and limited English proficient students; creating 
professional learning communities within a school; providing mentoring; 
involving parents in their child's education, especially parents of 
limited English proficient students and immigrant children; 
understanding and using data and assessments to improve and personalize 
classroom practice; and implementing adolescent literacy and 
mathematics initiatives.
    Discussion: We appreciate the many excellent suggestions for 
additional areas on which professional development should focus. With 
one exception, we decline to add examples.

[[Page 65634]]

We could never list all relevant topics for strong professional 
development, which must be tailored to the needs of staff in particular 
schools, and we would not want to suggest that topics not listed were, 
thus, less worthy of addressing.
    Changes: We have added a permissible activity in paragraph 
(d)(2)(ii)(C) under ``comprehensive instructional reform strategies'' 
to highlight the need for additional supports and professional 
development for teachers and principals in implementing effective 
strategies to educate students with disabilities in the least 
restrictive environment and to ensure that limited English proficient 
students acquire language skills necessary to master academic content.
    Comment: One commenter noted that the requirement to provide staff 
with ongoing, high-quality, job-embedded professional development was 
silent with respect to the impact of professional development on 
instruction. The commenter pointed to an apparent inconsistency with 
the emphasis in the permissible activity that suggested that LEAs be 
required to institute a system for measuring changes in instructional 
practices resulting from professional development. Because the 
commenter values professional development designed to improve 
instruction, the commenter recommended that the Secretary require a 
school to have a system for measuring changes in instructional 
practices resulting from professional development in order to evaluate 
its efficacy.
    Discussion: We believe that the requirement to provide ongoing, 
high-quality, job-embedded professional development to staff in a 
school is clearly tied to improving instruction in multiple ways. 
First, the requirement that professional development be ``job-
embedded'' connotes a direct connection between a teacher's work in the 
classroom and the professional development the teacher receives. 
Second, the examples of topics for professional development, such as 
subject-specific pedagogy and differentiated instruction, are directly 
related to improving the instruction a teacher provides. Third, 
professional development must be aligned with the school's 
comprehensive instructional program. Finally, the articulated purpose 
of professional development in paragraph (d)(1)(i)(D) of the 
transformation model is to ensure that a teacher is ``equipped to 
facilitate effective teaching and learning'' and has the ``capacity to 
successfully implement school reform strategies.'' Although we believe 
that instituting a system for measuring changes in instructional 
practices resulting from professional development can be valuable, we 
decline to require it as part of this program. We believe that the 
specificity in the nature of the professional development required for 
a transformation model is sufficient to ensure that it, in fact, 
results in improved instruction.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department add a 
requirement that professional development be designed to ensure that 
staff of a school using the transformation model can work effectively 
with families and community partners. The commenter reasoned that, 
given the emphasis on working with families and community partners to 
improve the academic achievement of students in a school, staff must 
know how to work with them.
    Discussion: We decline to make the suggested change. We agree with 
the commenter that family and community involvement in a school is 
critical to the school's ultimate success and have included, as both 
required and permissible activities, a variety of provisions to address 
this important need. We would expect professional development to 
include appropriate training to ensure, as the commenter suggests, that 
staff are well equipped to facilitate family and community involvement. 
We do not believe, however, that we should try to expressly highlight 
each and every appropriate topic of high-quality professional 
development in this notice.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that financial incentives are not 
necessarily the most motivating factor in retaining high-quality staff. 
Rather, the commenter stated that the culture of a school--i.e., 
quality relationships with other teachers, the school climate, the 
leadership of the principal, and the potential for professional 
growth--is often a greater motivator.
    Discussion: We agree that financial incentives are not the only 
motivating factor in attracting staff to a school or retaining them in 
the school. We hope that changes in the culture of a school that result 
from implementing the interventions established in this notice play a 
large role in attracting, placing, and retaining high-quality staff. As 
a result, in both the transformation and turnaround models, we have 
provided examples of several strategies to recruit, place, and retain 
high-quality staff.
    Changes: We have added examples of strategies designed to recruit, 
place, and retain staff, including ``financial incentives, increased 
opportunities for promotion and career growth, and more flexible work 
conditions'' in paragraphs (d)(1)(i)(E), with respect to the 
transformation model, and (a)(1)(iii), with respect to the turnaround 
model. We have also made clear that those strategies must be designed 
to recruit, place, and retain staff who have the skills necessary to 
meet the needs of the students in the schools implementing a 
transformation or turnaround model, respectively.
    Comment: Several commenters supported the concept of ``mutual 
consent''--that is, ensuring that a school is not required to accept a 
teacher without the mutual consent of the teacher and the principal, 
regardless of the teacher's seniority. One commenter recommended making 
``mutual consent'' a required component of both the turnaround model 
and the transformation model. Other commenters, however, opposed any 
mention of ``mutual consent,'' even as a permissible activity. One 
asserted that the concept conflicts with the provision in section 
1116(d) of the ESEA that precludes interventions in Title I schools 
from affecting the rights, remedies, and procedures afforded school 
employees under Federal, State, or local laws or under the terms of 
collective bargaining agreements, memoranda of understanding, or other 
agreements between employees and their employers.
    Discussion: Like several commenters, the Secretary supports and 
encourages the use of mutual consent. The Secretary considers mutual 
consent to be a positive example of LEAs' partnering with unions to 
bring change to the Nation's persistently lowest-achieving schools. 
That said, we decline to require mutual consent as a part of the 
transformation model because mutual consent policies and other similar 
agreements are best resolved at the State and local levels in the 
context of existing collective bargaining agreements.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Secretary add a 
requirement that, in the event budget cuts occur, a principal be 
allowed to lay off teachers on the basis of performance rather than 
seniority. The commenter noted that this provision could be an 
important lever for obtaining positive changes to collective bargaining 
agreements that would help low-achieving schools attract and retain 
effective staff.
    Discussion: We decline to make the suggested change. Although we 
support the need to modify collective bargaining

[[Page 65635]]

agreements if they impede efforts to attract and retain qualified staff 
in the persistently lowest-achieving schools, we do not believe we can 
or should prescribe the specific terms of those agreements.
    Changes: None.

Comprehensive Instructional Reform Strategies

    Comment: Several commenters suggested that the Department revise 
the comprehensive instructional reform component of the transformation 
model by modifying or expanding the provision requiring the use of 
individualized student data to inform and differentiate instruction. 
One commenter suggested clarifying that individualized student data are 
to be used to meet students' academic needs while another commenter 
suggested clarifying that the data should be used to address the needs 
of ``individual'' students. Other commenters suggested expanding this 
provision to include non-academic data such as chronic absenteeism, 
truancy, health (vision, hearing, dental, and access to primary care), 
safety, family engagement and well-being, and housing. The commenter 
suggested that these data be used, in partnership with parents and 
other community partners, to address other student needs.
    Discussion: The purpose of this section of the transformation model 
is to improve instruction, and we agree that adding the word 
``academic'' is a helpful clarification. Although we also agree that 
non-academic data can play an important role in identifying other 
student needs that can affect learning, local school administrators, 
working with parents and community partners, are in the best position 
to determine how to address those needs. Therefore, we decline to add a 
requirement that a school examine non-academic data.
    Changes: We have added the word ``academic'' in paragraph 
(d)(2)(i)(B) to clarify that the continuous use of student data to 
inform and differentiate instruction must be promoted to meet the 
academic needs of individual students. We made a corresponding change 
in paragraph (a)(1)(vii) regarding the turnaround model.
    Comment: One commenter noted that requiring instructional programs 
to be ``evidence-based'' instead of ``research-based'' would enable the 
use of programs for which there is accumulated evidence that does not 
meet the current ESEA definition of ``scientifically based research.''
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that an LEA should only 
implement instructional programs for which there is a sufficient body 
of evidence supporting improved student achievement. We do not believe 
a change is necessary, however, because we do not use the term 
``scientifically based research'' and, therefore, do not invoke the 
stringent requirements in section 9101(37) of the ESEA.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department add a 
provision that would require a school to identify ``off-track and out-
of-school youth, through analysis and segmentation of student data,'' 
and develop and implement education options to put them back on track 
to graduate. The commenter stated that, once students are off track to 
graduating on time, their likelihood of graduating is often as low as 
20 percent. Moreover, in the 2,000 high schools in the Nation with 
four-year graduation rates of 60 percent or less, up to 80 percent of 
ninth graders are significantly behind in skills or credits. Several 
other commenters suggested including stronger support for re-enrolling 
youth who have left high school as a critical part of increasing 
graduation rates.
    Discussion: We agree that programs and strategies designed to re-
engage youth who have dropped out of high school without receiving a 
diploma are necessary in increasing graduation rates. Accordingly, we 
are modifying the notice to address this need. We also hope that an 
LEA's extension or restructuring of the school day to add time for 
strategies such as advisory periods to build relationships between 
students, faculty, and other staff will help to identify students who 
are struggling and to secure for them the necessary supports 
sufficiently early to prevent their dropping out of school. Finally, as 
noted earlier, we have added references to increased high school 
graduation rates in four provisions to make clear that implementation 
of the models in high schools must focus on increasing graduation rates 
as well as improved student achievement.
    Changes: We have modified paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(E)(3) to add re-
engagement strategies as an example of a way to increase high school 
graduation rates. We have also added paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(E)(4) 
suggesting that permissible comprehensive instructional reform 
strategies may include establishing early-warning systems to identify 
students who may be at risk of failing to achieve to high standards or 
graduate.
    Comment: A number of commenters suggested that the Department 
include additional required or permissible activities for carrying out 
comprehensive instructional reform strategies. Specifically, two 
commenters recommended that the Department require schools to conduct 
periodic reviews so as to ensure that the curriculum is being 
implemented with fidelity (rather than merely permitting this activity) 
and improve school library programs. Other commenters suggested 
expanding the permissible activities in secondary schools to include 
learning opportunities that reflect the context of the community in 
which the school is located, such as service learning, place-based 
education, and civic and environmental education. The commenters also 
recommended clarifying that improving students' transition from middle 
to high schools should include family outreach and parent education. 
Another commenter suggested that the Department expand the list of 
permissible activities in elementary schools to include providing 
opportunities for students to attend foreign language immersion 
programs.
    Discussion: The Secretary agrees that there are any number of 
important activities that would be appropriate to address in a 
transformation model. As described in this notice, the transformation 
model, by necessity, focuses on several broad strategies. However, 
nothing precludes local school leaders from expanding the model as 
necessary to address other factors needed to respond to the specific 
needs of students in the school.
    Changes: We have included in this notice a definition of increased 
learning time that would permit many, if not all, of the commenters' 
suggestions. For example, that definition makes clear that a school may 
increase time to teach core academic subjects, including, for example, 
civics and foreign languages, and to provide enrichment activities such 
as service learning and experiential and work-based learning 
opportunities.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department add the 
implementation of technology-based solutions to the list of permissible 
activities, while another commenter recommended that the Department add 
online instructional services offered by a for-profit or non-profit 
entity as an example of a comprehensive, research-based instructional 
program.
    Discussion: The Secretary agrees that technology can be an 
important tool for supporting instruction, and we are adding as a 
permissible activity the suggestion to use and integrate technology-
based supports and interventions as part of a school's instructional 
program. Although online instructional programs might be part of

[[Page 65636]]

a school's system of technology-based supports, we decline to mention 
it specifically. Online instructional programs, if research-based, are 
one of many ways to meet the needs of students in struggling schools, 
particularly to provide courses or programs that schools in rural or 
remote areas cannot otherwise provide. We cannot mention in this 
notice, however, each and every type of instructional program.
    Changes: We have added as a permissible activity in paragraph 
(d)(2)(ii)(D) using and integrating technology-based supports and 
interventions as part of a school's instructional program.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department add to the 
transformation model the strategy to reorganize the school with a new 
purpose and structure it as a magnet school, a thematic school, or a 
school-community partnership.
    Discussion: We decline to include this change in the transformation 
model, a model that uses the existing staff in a school and who would 
likely not have the expertise to implement an instructional program 
with a whole new purpose.
    Changes: None. However, we have clarified in paragraph (a)(2)(ii) 
that a turnaround model may include a new school model (e.g., themed, 
dual language academy).

Increasing Learning Time and Creating Community-Oriented Schools

    Comment: Several commenters expressed support overall and for 
various activities of the ``Increasing learning time and creating 
community-oriented schools'' component of the transformation model, 
including the references to school climate, internships, and community 
service.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' support. We are including 
some of these activities in the definition of increased learning time 
that also applies to the Stabilization Phase II and Race to the Top 
programs, rather than listing them as specific elements of the 
``increasing learning time and creating community-oriented schools'' 
component. They have no less importance, however.
    Changes: We have included in the notice a definition of increased 
learning time that includes opportunities for enrichment activities for 
students, such as service learning and community service.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that the Department highlight 
the importance of certain activities by revising the heading of this 
component. For example, one commenter suggesting revising the heading 
to emphasize family involvement while another commenter suggested 
revising it to specifically reference students' social and emotional 
needs. A third commenter suggested expanding the title to include 
``using research-based methods to deliver comprehensive services to 
students.''
    Discussion: We decline to make these changes. Although we embrace 
the need to address not just the academic needs of students but also 
how their social and emotional needs affect their learning and to 
emphasize the importance of family involvement, we believe it is 
preferable to keep the heading for this component more general. The 
headings for each of the components in the transformation model are 
deliberately broad so as to cover a number of important activities, and 
the fact that a specific activity is not in a heading is not a 
reflection of that activity's importance. We believe the list of 
permissible activities illustrates various ways in which a school can 
address students' social and emotional needs and involve families in 
their child's education.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that the Department highlight 
the importance of certain activities by making them required. For 
example, some commenters recommended expanding the required activities 
to include a comprehensive guidance curriculum delivered by a school 
counselor who is certified by the State department of education; 
partnering with parents, faith-based and community-based organizations, 
and others to provide comprehensive student services; more time for 
social and emotional learning; and improving school climate. Another 
commenter recommended requiring that the transformation model include 
the components of the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration 
program.
    Other commenters suggested adding references to high school study-
abroad programs as an example of a student enrichment activity and 
activities designed to reduce out-of-school suspensions and expulsions 
as a strategy for addressing school climate.
    Discussion: As we noted earlier, we agree that there are any number 
of important activities that would be appropriate to address in a 
transformation model. As described in this notice, the transformation 
model, by necessity, focuses on several broad strategies. However, 
there is nothing to prevent local school leaders from expanding the 
model as necessary to address other factors needed to respond to the 
specific needs of students in the school.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department define 
``community-oriented schools'' as schools that partner with community-
based organizations to provide necessary services to students and 
families using research-based methods, which might include: a school-
based, on-site coordinator; comprehensive school- and student-level 
needs assessments; community-assets assessments and identification of 
potential partners; annual plans for school-level prevention and 
individual intervention strategies; delivery of an appropriate mix of 
prevention and intervention services; data collection and evaluation 
over time, with on-going modifications of services; and/or other 
research-based components. Another commenter suggested removing the 
word ``oriented'' and using the term ``community-schools,'' which the 
commenter indicated is more commonly known.
    Discussion: Although we appreciate the commenters' interest in 
ensuring greater clarity on the concept of ``community-oriented 
schools,'' we decline to make the suggested changes. The components of 
``community-oriented schools'' will vary school by school depending on 
student and community needs and resources. There is nothing in the 
notice that would prevent local school leaders from undertaking any of 
the strategies in the definition the commenters proposed if necessary 
to respond to the specific needs of students in the school.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters suggested that the Department add 
``community-based organization'' and ``workforce systems, specifically 
nonprofit and community-based organizations providing employment, 
training, and education services to youth'' to the list of entities 
with which an LEA or school may choose to partner in providing 
enrichment activities during extended learning time.
    Discussion: In the SIG NPR, we listed universities, businesses, and 
museums as examples of entities with which a school could partner in 
providing enrichment activities during extended learning time. In this 
final notice, we are instead including a definition of increased 
learning time that applies to the Stabilization Phase II, Race to the 
Top, and SIG programs. That definition no longer includes examples of 
appropriate partnership entities, because there may be any number of

[[Page 65637]]

organizations or entities in a particular community that might be 
appropriate partners.
    Changes: In the definition of increased learning time, we have 
included the following: ``(b) Instruction in other subjects and 
enrichment activities that contribute to a well-rounded education, 
including, for example, physical education, service learning, and 
experiential and work-based learning opportunities that are provided by 
partnering, as appropriate, with other organizations;''.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the reference to ``parents,'' 
in the list of entities with which schools might partner to create safe 
school environments that meet students' social, emotional, and health 
needs, should include ``parent organizations.''
    Discussion: We agree with this suggestion and are adding a 
reference to parent organizations.
    Changes: We have revised the permissible activity in paragraph 
(d)(3)(ii)(A) regarding creating safe school environments to include a 
reference to partnering with parents and ``parent organizations,'' 
along with faith- and community-based organizations, health clinics, 
other State and local agencies, and others.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department define 
``family engagement'' and requiring the use of certain family-
engagement mechanisms, including family-engagement coordinators at 
school sites, home visitation programs, family literacy programs, and 
parent leadership programs. Another commenter recommended defining 
``community engagement'' as systemic efforts to involve parents, 
community residents, members of school communities, community partners, 
and other stakeholders in exploring student and school needs and, 
working together, developing a plan to address those needs.
    Discussion: We agree that there are any number of important 
activities that could support increased family and community 
engagement. The reference to family and community engagement in this 
notice is deliberately broad so as to provide maximum flexibility in 
determining how best to address local needs. However, there is nothing 
to prevent local school leaders from incorporating any of the 
strategies mentioned or other strategies that will lead to effective 
family and community engagement.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department include 
language to make clear that extending learning time can be accomplished 
by adding a preschool program prior to school entry.
    Discussion: The Secretary agrees that preschool education is very 
important in ensuring that children enter kindergarten with the skills 
necessary to succeed in school. He also agrees that preschool education 
is an effective way to increase learning time.
    Changes: We have added, as a permissible activity in paragraph 
(d)(3)(ii)(D), expanding the school program to offer full-day 
kindergarten or pre-kindergarten.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that the Department clarify 
that increased learning time includes summer school, after-school 
programs, and other instruction during non-school hours. Several other 
commenters suggested increasing instructional time during the school 
day and the need to make existing time more effective, including 
through the use of technology. Another commenter suggested clarifying 
that extended learning time should be beyond the current State-mandated 
instructional time.
    Discussion: We have added in this notice a definition of increased 
learning time that applies to the Stabilization Phase II, Race to the 
Top, and SIG programs. Under that definition, increased learning time 
means using a longer school day, week, or year schedule to 
significantly increase the total number of school hours to include 
additional time for instruction in core academic subjects; time for 
instruction in other subjects and enrichment activities that contribute 
to a well-rounded education; and time for teachers to collaborate, 
plan, and engage in professional development within and across grades 
and subjects.
    Changes: We have revised the notice to define increased learning 
time. The full definition is as follows:
    Increased learning time means using a longer school day, week, or 
year schedule to significantly increase the total number of school 
hours to include additional time for (a) instruction in core academic 
subjects including English; reading or language arts; mathematics; 
science; foreign languages; civics and government; economics; arts; 
history; and geography; (b) instruction in other subjects and 
enrichment activities that contribute to a well-rounded education, 
including, for example, physical education, service learning, and 
experiential and work-based learning opportunities that are provided by 
partnering, as appropriate, with other organizations; and (c) teachers 
to collaborate, plan, and engage in professional development within and 
across grades and subjects.\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ Research supports the effectiveness of well-designed 
programs that expand learning time by a minimum of 300 hours per 
school year. (See Frazier, Julie A.; Morrison, Frederick J. ``The 
Influence of Extended-year Schooling on Growth of Achievement and 
Perceived Competence in Early Elementary School.'' Child 
Development. Vol. 69 (2), April 1998, pp. 495-497 and research done 
by Mass2020.) Extending learning into before- and after-school hours 
can be difficult to implement effectively, but is permissible under 
this definition with encouragement to closely integrate and 
coordinate academic work between in-school and out-of school. (See 
James-Burdumy, Susanne; Dynarski, Mark; Deke, John. ``When 
Elementary Schools Stay Open Late: Results from The National 
Evaluation of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program.'' 
http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/publications/redirect_
PubsDB.asp?strSite=http://epa.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/29/4/
296. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Vol. 29 (4), 
December 2007, Document No. PP07-121.)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Providing Operating Flexibility and Sustained Support

    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department add a 
requirement that a school implementing the transformation model be 
required to present a plan for how the various elements of the model 
are aligned and coordinated to improve student achievement and other 
indicators of student growth (such as health and civic competencies).
    Discussion: We decline to make the suggested change. We are 
confident that a school implementing the transformation model would 
have a plan without the need for the Department to require it.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the list of potential 
technical assistance providers in proposed section I.A.d.iv.A.2 of the 
SIG NPR be expanded to include ``professional organizations that have a 
track record of turning around low-performing schools.''
    Discussion: This provision is intended to ensure that schools 
implementing the transformation model receive coordinated ongoing 
technical assistance and reflects the belief that an SEA, LEA, or 
external lead partner organization would be in the best position to 
integrate services at the school level. This notice does not preclude 
the involvement of entities other than those mentioned so long as they 
fulfill the role of a lead partner in integrating services and supports 
for the school.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter cautioned about the use of ``weighted per-
pupil school-based budgeting,'' noting that early research indicates 
this practice

[[Page 65638]]

undermines cross-school cooperation by promoting competition among 
schools for students and the resources or liabilities they may 
represent.
    Discussion: We note that implementing a per-pupil school-based 
budget formula that is weighted based on student needs is listed as a 
permissible, not required, activity to give schools operational 
flexibility. We believe allocating funds based on student 
characteristics and then giving schools broad flexibility to use those 
funds to meet their respective needs is one way to provide incentives 
for schools to use their cumulative resources in innovative ways to 
meet the needs of their student population. If an LEA determines such 
budgeting is not appropriate in the context of its schools, it need not 
implement this activity.
    Changes: None.

Analysis of Comments and Changes Made in These Final Requirements

LEA Requirements

    Comment: One commenter recommended that the final notice require an 
LEA to conduct an ``inventory of campus learning'' before selecting a 
school intervention model. Another commenter recommended that the SEA 
should be required to consider the research base for a proposed 
intervention.
    Discussion: As a clarification, the requirement for an LEA to 
analyze the needs of its schools and select an appropriate 
intervention, which in the NPR was referenced at the end of proposed 
section I.A.2 regarding strength of an LEA's commitment and indirectly 
referenced in proposed section II.B.2 under SEA Responsibilities, now 
is specifically required in new section I.A.4 regarding evidence of 
strongest commitment and new section II.A.2(a)(iv) (proposed II.A.2) of 
the LEA Requirements section of this notice. We believe this 
requirement addresses the commenter's recommendation that an LEA 
conduct an ``inventory of campus learning'' before selecting a model. 
We do not agree, however, that such analysis needs to include 
consideration, by either the SEA or the LEA, of the research base 
behind the four school intervention models, primarily because the 
Department already has taken into account available research in 
developing these models.
    Changes: The Department has added a requirement in new section 
II.A.2(a)(iv) (proposed II.A.2) that an LEA ``[p]rovide evidence of its 
strong commitment to use school improvement funds to implement the four 
interventions by addressing the factors in section I.A.4(a) of these 
requirements.'' New section I.A.4(a)(i) states that one of the factors 
is the LEA's efforts to ``[a]nalyze the needs of its schools and select 
an intervention for each school.''
    Comment: One commenter noted that, although the proposed SEA review 
of LEA applications included a review of how an LEA proposes to 
recruit, screen, and select external providers to ensure quality and 
whether school interventions are embedded in a longer-term plan to 
sustain gains in student achievement, there were no LEA application 
requirements in the NPR that addressed these issues.
    Discussion: The Department is adding language in new section 
II.A.2(a)(iv) (proposed II.A.2) of the final requirements that requires 
an LEA in its application for school improvement funds to provide 
evidence of its strong commitment to use school improvement funds to 
implement the four school intervention models by addressing the factors 
in new section I.A.4(a), which include recruiting, screening, and 
selecting external providers and sustaining the reforms after the 
funding period ends. However, we are removing the language in proposed 
section I.A.2(4) requiring LEA efforts to ``embed the interventions in 
a longer-term plan to sustain gains in achievement'' due to redundancy 
with the requirement in new section I.A.4(a)(vi) regarding how the LEA 
will ``[s]ustain the reforms after the funding period ends.'' We also 
are eliminating proposed section II.A.8 and a portion of proposed 
section II.B.2(2) for the same reason.
    Changes: New section II.A.2(a)(iv) requires an LEA in its 
application for school improvement funds to ``[p]rovide evidence of its 
strong commitment to use school improvement funds to implement the four 
interventions by addressing the factors in section I.A.4(a) of these 
requirements.'' (These factors were moved from proposed section 
II.B.2(2), SEA Responsibilities, in the NPR.) We have removed from 
these factors the proposed requirement in section I.A.2(4) that an LEA 
``embed the interventions in a longer-term plan to sustain gains in 
achievement,'' and have removed proposed section II.A.8 from these 
final requirements.
    Comment: Many commenters objected to the requirement in proposed 
section II.A.2 that an LEA with nine or more Tier I and Tier II schools 
not implement the same intervention in more than 50 percent of these 
schools. These commenters variously observed that this restriction 
conflicted with the emphasis on using data to match interventions to 
local needs, the desirability of scaling up successful interventions, 
and limited LEA capacity for administering multiple intervention 
strategies. Other commenters objected that there was no research base 
for restricting the application of particular interventions. Most 
commenters recommended eliminating the proposed restriction, but some 
suggested modifying it to permit exceptions if an LEA can provide data 
or research to support expanded use of a particular intervention.
    Discussion: After years of school improvement efforts under the 
ESEA, there are far too few examples of persistently low-achieving 
schools that have significantly and rapidly improved performance. We 
believe that, in part, this is because turning around such schools 
generally requires fundamental changes in leadership and often in 
governance and staff, changes that many LEAs are reluctant to make. 
Consequently, removing proposed section II.A.2 could inhibit 
implementation of models that involve significant changes in 
governance, leadership, and staffing in the persistently lowest-
achieving schools. In particular, the Department is concerned that many 
LEAs would overuse the transformation model, even in cases where a 
comprehensive needs analysis supports more far-reaching changes in 
leadership and staffing. For this reason, we are retaining proposed 
section II.A.2 in the final requirements, but modifying it to state 
that an LEA with nine or more Tier I and Tier II schools may not 
implement the transformation model in more than 50 percent of those 
schools.
    Changes: We have replaced ``same intervention'' with 
``transformation model'' in new section II.A.2(b) in these final 
requirements.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended requiring LEAs to implement one 
of the four school intervention models in their Tier II schools, as 
well as in their Tier I schools, unless they can demonstrate that they 
lack ``sufficient capacity to undertake intensive interventions'' in 
such schools.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that serving Tier II schools is a 
critical part of the School Improvement Grants program described in 
this final notice; this is why, for example, an SEA is required to give 
priority to funding LEAs that commit to serve both Tier I and Tier II 
schools. However, because the ESEA authorizes an LEA to use school 
improvement funds only in Title I schools in improvement, corrective 
action, or restructuring, and because an SEA must apply for a waiver to 
permit

[[Page 65639]]

its LEAs to serve Tier II schools, we decline to require LEAs to serve 
their Tier II schools.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked for clarification regarding the 
allowable interventions for Tier III schools.
    Discussion: An LEA has significant flexibility with respect to the 
school improvement activities it conducts in Tier III schools. It can 
certainly implement the four school intervention models in this notice 
if the needs of Tier III schools warrant those interventions. It can 
also implement the interventions required or permitted under section 
1116 of the ESEA, which outlines the school improvement process for 
Title I schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or 
restructuring.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter requested additional information on how 
schools with kindergarten through grade 12, kindergarten through grade 
8, and grades 6 through 12 will be classified under the three tiers.
    Discussion: Grade spans are not a factor in an SEA's identification 
of Tier I and Tier III schools. In determining which schools may be 
considered Tier II schools, the ``frequently asked questions'' (FAQs) 
guidance document for the final State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Phase 
II notice states that, in accordance with section 9101(38) of the ESEA, 
a secondary school is a school that provides ``secondary education, as 
determined under State law, except that the term does not include any 
education beyond grade 12.'' Thus, depending on State law, a school 
with any of the grade spans described by the commenter (K-12, K-8, 6-
12) that is a persistently lowest-achieving school and is eligible for, 
but does not receive, Title I, Part A funds may be considered a 
secondary school that could be identified by an SEA as a Tier II 
school.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department require an 
LEA to include in its application a description of how the LEA will 
engage parents and families under each school intervention model that 
it plans to implement, and require an SEA to ensure that an LEA's 
application includes family engagement and parent outreach activities 
consistent with the requirements of section 1116 of the ESEA. Other 
commenters recommended that parents, communities, and other affected 
parties have an opportunity to comment before a specific model is 
selected for implementation, and that community support for a model be 
considered part of the ``greatest commitment'' required to receive 
School Improvement Grants funding. Two other commenters called for Tier 
I and Tier II schools to provide information to parents and the public 
about their school intervention model before it is implemented, with a 
clear explanation of the school's achievement record, why the model is 
being implemented, and regular progress updates.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that parent, family, and 
community involvement can make an important contribution to turning 
around a persistently lowest-achieving school. This is why this final 
notice retains the requirement in proposed section I.A.2(d)(iii)(A)(4) 
that a transformation model provide ongoing mechanisms for family and 
community engagement. In addition, partnering with parents and faith- 
and community-based organizations to create safe school environments 
that meet students' social, emotional, and health needs is a 
permissible activity under the turnaround, restart, and transformation 
models. The Department also anticipates and expects that, consistent 
with existing school improvement requirements in section 1116 of the 
ESEA, LEAs and schools will keep parents informed regarding planned 
interventions and progress updates on the implementation of such 
interventions. We believe that these pre-existing requirements are 
sufficient to ensure parent and community engagement and, therefore, 
decline to add specific requirements for demonstrated parental or 
community support for the intervention models selected by an LEA.
    Changes: We have added a provision in new section I.A.2(a)(2)(i) 
regarding the turnaround model and provided guidance to clarify under 
the restart model that family and community engagement activities are 
permitted. They are required under the transformation model in new 
section I.A.2(d)(3)(i)(B) (proposed I.A.2(d)(iii)(A)(4)).
    Comment: One commenter recommended requiring LEAs to engage the 
local collective bargaining representative prior to participating in 
the School Improvement Grants process and to include in their 
applications such evidence of that engagement as a written commitment 
of support or a memorandum of understanding demonstrating the 
commitment of their teachers and staff to collaborate on the 
implementation of school intervention models.
    Discussion: As discussed elsewhere in this notice, the Department 
encourages LEAs and teacher unions and teacher membership associations 
to collaborate closely in the development of LEA school intervention 
plans and to agree on strategies to effectively implement school 
intervention models in the context of existing collective bargaining 
agreements. However, we decline to require evidence of such 
collaboration in LEA applications for School Improvement Grants 
funding.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended adding provisions to the final 
requirements that would make it easier for rural LEAs with low-
achieving schools to participate by allowing educational service 
agencies to apply on behalf of several LEAs, allowing LEAs to apply in 
consortia, and requiring SEAs to provide technical assistance to rural 
LEAs.
    Discussion: Section 1003(g) of the ESEA, which authorizes the 
School Improvement Grants program, requires SEAs to subgrant 95 percent 
of program funds directly to LEAs with schools identified for 
improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. If an educational 
service agency is an LEA within the definition in section 9101(26) of 
the ESEA, it may apply for a School Improvement Grant on behalf of a 
number of LEAs, provided the educational service agency has the 
authority and capability to implement the rigorous whole-school 
intervention models required by this notice. Additionally, LEAs may 
apply as a consortium for a School Improvement Grant but the consortia 
must be able to implement the required interventions in the Tier I and 
Tier II schools the consortia commits to serve. Moreover, pursuant to 
section 1003(g)(7) of the ESEA, if an SEA receives approval from an 
LEA, the SEA may directly provide support for school improvement, or 
arrange for the provision of such support ``through other entities such 
as school support teams or educational service agencies.'' Accordingly, 
a rural LEA, either individually or in consortia with other rural LEAs, 
may arrange to implement school intervention models in its Tier I and 
Tier II schools, or to provide school improvement services to its Tier 
III schools, through partnership with an educational service agency or 
similar entity. In addition, each SEA must address in its application 
for a School Improvement Grant how the SEA will use its five-percent 
share of those funds, which may include providing technical assistance 
to participating rural LEAs and schools.
    Changes: Section II.D requires an SEA to describe in its 
application for a School Improvement Grant how the

[[Page 65640]]

SEA will use the school improvement funds it reserves at the State 
level.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that, regardless of the school 
intervention model selected for a Tier I or Tier II school, LEAs be 
required to address other teaching and learning conditions that attract 
high-quality teachers to struggling schools, including the following: 
(1) The quality of the school building and classrooms; (2) class size; 
(3) the availability of updated textbooks and sufficient per-pupil 
resources; (4) team and individual planning time; (5) mentoring 
opportunities; (6) curricular breadth; (7) professional autonomy and 
flexibility; (8) competitive salaries and benefits; and (9) 
opportunities for professional growth.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that LEA efforts to recruit and 
retain effective teachers to work in persistently lowest-achieving 
schools (as defined in this notice) will be essential for the success 
of the turnaround, restart, and transformation models. We also note 
that several of the conditions suggested by the commenters--such as 
planning time, professional autonomy and flexibility, and competitive 
salaries and benefits--are likely to be addressed under each of these 
models. However, other ``conditions,'' such as the quality of school 
facilities and class size, are not critical elements of the school 
intervention models required by this notice and we decline to require 
LEAs to address them in their applications for School Improvement 
Grants.
    Changes: None.

LEA Budgets

    Comment: One commenter requested that the Department clarify 
whether an LEA's budget must be submitted on a school-by-school basis 
or on a district-wide basis.
    Discussion: We believe the language in section II.A.4 is clear that 
an LEA's budget must include school-by-school allocations for 
implementing an intervention or providing school improvement services. 
However, we have made explicit, as explained in the SEA application 
package, that an LEA must include in its application a separate budget 
for every Tier I and Tier II school that it commits to serve by 
implementing a school intervention model, as well as for each Tier III 
school that it will serve with school improvement funds. In addition, 
we have made clear in the SEA application package that an LEA's budget 
may include district-level activities that support implementation of 
the intervention models.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that each LEA be required to 
include in its budget submitted under proposed section II.A.3 a 
rationale for the proposed allocation of school improvement funds among 
Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III schools.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter's recommendation and are 
adding in new section II.A.2(a)(vi) of these final requirements 
(proposed II.A.3) a requirement that an LEA include in its application 
a budget indicating how it will allocate school improvement funds among 
Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III schools that it commits to serve. In 
addition, an LEA's proposed budget for its Tier I and Tier II schools 
must be of sufficient size and scope to implement the selected 
intervention models. An LEA also must describe in its application the 
amount of funds or value of benefits that it will provide to Tier III 
schools.
    Changes: We have added a provision in new section II.A.2(a)(vi) of 
the final requirements (proposed II.A.3) that an LEA's application must 
``[i]nclude a budget indicating how it will allocate school improvement 
funds among the Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III schools it commits to 
serve.''
    Comment: One commenter asked whether school improvement funds could 
be used to fund or provide services to schools that feed into Tier I, 
Tier II or Tier III schools.
    Discussion: LEAs may provide funds or services to such feeder 
schools only if these schools are Tier III schools that the LEA commits 
to serve as part of its application for a School Improvement Grant. For 
example, as noted in the preamble to the NPR, States may differentiate 
among Tier III schools by giving priority to LEAs that focus on such 
schools that are feeders to Tier I and Tier II schools.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter requested clarification as to whether school 
improvement funds could be used to pay the excess costs of transporting 
students to new schools when implementing the school closure model. 
Other commenters recommended that an LEA's budget for implementing the 
school closure model include the costs incurred by schools receiving 
additional students as a result of the closure.
    Discussion: An LEA may use school improvement funds to pay some of 
the costs associated with closing a Tier I or Tier II school, 
including, for example, parent and community meetings regarding the 
school closure, services to help parents and students transition to a 
new school, or orientation activities that are specifically designed 
for students attending a new school. Other costs, such as revising 
transportation routes, making class assignments in a new school, or 
providing services to students in their new school, are regular 
responsibilities an LEA carries out for all students and may not be 
paid for with school improvement funds. The Department notes, however, 
that to the extent that a receiving school enrolls students from a 
closed school who are from low-income families, the receiving school 
should receive a larger Title I, Part A allocation to assist in meeting 
the needs of such students, or may even qualify as a Title I school 
based on the inclusion of those students.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked the Department to clarify which Title 
I requirements apply to the use of section 1003(g) funds, particularly 
if a school is operating a schoolwide program.
    Discussion: In general, school improvement funding provided under 
section 1003(g), as described in this notice, is intended, much like 
regular Title I funds for a schoolwide program, to be used to upgrade 
the instructional program of an entire school. This is why, for 
example, the Secretary has invited SEAs to request a waiver to permit a 
Title I school that is implementing a targeted assistance program, but 
that is not eligible to operate a schoolwide program, to operate a 
schoolwide program in order to implement a turnaround, restart, or 
transformation model. However, the Department expects that a school 
operating a schoolwide program that is implementing a turnaround, 
restart, or transformation model described in these final requirements 
would have to modify its schoolwide program plan and school improvement 
plan, if it is a separate plan, to account for changes required by the 
selected intervention model. In particular, we note that section 
1114(b)(1)(B)(iv) of the ESEA requires a Title I schoolwide program to 
include schoolwide reform strategies that ``are consistent with, and 
are designed to implement, the State and local improvement plans, if 
any.''
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters expressed a variety of concerns 
about the requirement in proposed section II.A.8 that an LEA 
demonstrate how it will sustain the interventions implemented with its 
school improvement grant after the period of funding has ended. Two 
commenters disagreed on the value of this requirement, with one 
declaring it essential and the other calling for its elimination in the 
final notice, while another commenter also appeared to

[[Page 65641]]

support its elimination because of a belief that the requirement would 
divert attention from the more important issue of how school 
improvement funds will be used. One commenter recommended that an LEA 
reserve a portion of its school improvement grant for sustainability 
efforts. Another commenter suggested that plans for continuing the 
interventions, rather than an absolute commitment that could be 
difficult to fulfill in difficult economic times, should be sufficient 
to satisfy the requirement in proposed section II.A.8.
    Discussion: The purpose of proposed section II.A.8 was not to hold 
an LEA accountable for a future commitment, but to insist that an LEA 
receiving school improvement funds engage in thoughtful planning about 
how to sustain its school intervention models after the period of 
Federal support for these models ends. Ideally, once the ``heavy 
lifting'' of initial start-up and implementation of the intervention 
models is completed, an LEA should be able to phase out intensive 
support and continue implementation with existing levels of State and 
local education funding. It may also be possible for an LEA to use 
section 1003(a) school improvement funds to continue implementation of 
a school intervention model begun with a section 1003(g) School 
Improvement Grant. Alternatively, an LEA could use a portion of its 
regular Title I, Part A funds for this purpose. The key is that an LEA 
plan for the transition that will take place in three or less years. 
However, because proposed section II.A.8 duplicates new criterion 
I.A.4(a)(vi) in the final requirements, which, in accordance with new 
section II.A.2(a)(iv) in this notice must be addressed in an LEA's 
application, we are removing proposed section II.A.8 from the final 
requirements.
    Changes: We have removed proposed section II.A.8 from the final 
requirements.

Accountability

    Comment: A number of commenters supported the proposed requirement 
in section II.A.7 that an LEA establish and hold its Tier I and Tier II 
schools accountable for meeting, or being on track to meet, three-year 
student achievement goals for all students and for subgroups in 
reading/language arts and mathematics, as well as for making progress 
on the leading indicators. However, several commenters raised a concern 
about how the separate three-year achievement goals required under 
proposed section II.A.7 would fit into the existing ESEA State 
accountability systems that are based on adequate yearly progress 
toward State proficiency targets. Two of these commenters claimed that 
having separate goals could be confusing to parents, teachers, schools, 
and local communities. One commenter recommended that any goals 
established in the final requirements be aligned with existing 
accountability measures, while another opposed having separate 
accountability standards for schools receiving school improvement 
funds.
    Other commenters recommended that the Department require in the 
final notice that SEAs, rather than LEAs, develop common goals and 
annual targets for improvement for all their LEAs and schools, with one 
commenter suggesting that this would result in higher expectations for 
increased student achievement. For example, one commenter suggested 
that SEAs might require schools to exceed the district-wide average on 
reading/language arts and mathematics assessments after three years, 
demonstrate a 25-point gain in assessment scores over the same period, 
or meet specific targets for student proficiency in reading/language 
arts and mathematics (with targets differing by tier of schools). Other 
commenters recommended the use of multiple measures of student 
performance for accountability purposes, such as English language 
proficiency scores, graduation rates, dropout rates, attendance rates, 
college acceptance rates, and the number of students enrolled in 
International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement courses. In 
addition, some commenters called for setting performance targets for 
Tier III schools as well as for Tier I and II schools, others 
emphasized the importance of accountability for subgroup performance, 
and one expressed concern that being ``on track'' to meet goals would 
be a weak indicator of progress. Another commenter requested that the 
Department provide LEAs with flexibility to revise their three-year 
goals to accommodate their State's transition to common standards and 
assessments. Finally, several commenters encouraged broad dissemination 
of performance targets to parents and the general public.
    Discussion: The Department recognizes the difficulty and complexity 
of setting appropriate goals and annual targets to be used by LEAs in 
holding schools accountable for successful implementation of the school 
intervention models required by this notice. In particular, the 
comments submitted on the NPR have highlighted the potential for 
confusion on the part of parents, teachers, principals, schools, and 
the general public resulting from yet another set of performance goals 
on top of those used by existing ESEA and State accountability systems. 
On the other hand, the Department believes that an LEA should have a 
measure more sensitive than AYP to ensure that its schools are 
implementing these requirements fully and effectively and to be able to 
cease funding schools if they are not. Accordingly, we are replacing 
the proposed requirement that an LEA develop and use three-year student 
achievement goals with the requirement to make progress on the leading 
indicators in section III of the final requirements and to establish 
annual goals for student achievement on the State's assessments in both 
reading/language arts and mathematics that the LEA will use to monitor 
each Tier I and Tier II school that receives school improvement funds. 
Those goals might include, for example, making at least one year's 
progress in reading/language arts and mathematics, as measured by the 
State's assessments; reducing the percentage of students who are non-
proficient on the State's reading/language arts and mathematics 
assessments by 10 percent or more from the prior year; or meeting the 
academic achievement goals the State establishes in its Race to the Top 
application.
    We believe this approach, by requiring LEAs to set meaningful 
annual goals for overall achievement in reading/language arts and 
mathematics and to examine progress on the leading indicators in their 
Tier I and Tier II schools, will enable LEAs to monitor the fidelity 
and early success with which those schools are implementing their 
selected intervention model. Because the focus of this requirement is 
on monitoring implementation in a relatively small number of schools, 
we do not believe an LEA's goals will contribute unduly to confusion 
regarding the accountability requirements under the ESEA.
    We do not agree that LEAs should set specific separate performance 
targets for Tier III schools, primarily because the level of support 
and the interventions taken will vary widely among those schools. The 
performance of those schools is best measured through the existing, 
AYP-based ESEA accountability system. Finally, we expect LEAs to keep 
the public informed of the performance of Tier I and Tier II schools, 
but decline to add new requirements in this area.
    Changes: We have revised proposed section II.A.7 to state that an 
LEA must establish annual goals for student achievement on the State's 
assessments in both reading/language arts and

[[Page 65642]]

mathematics that it will use to monitor each Tier I and Tier II school 
that receives school improvement funds.
    Comment: Several commenters requested clarification regarding how 
LEAs must hold schools accountable for meeting the achievement goals 
required by proposed section II.A.7, with one commenter asking what 
sanctions would be appropriate for a school that does not meet its 
three-year student achievement goals and another asking whether the SEA 
may reallocate school improvement funds from a school that is not 
making the required progress to another LEA or school. Other commenters 
recommended implementing a different school intervention model in such 
cases; one of these commenters proposed expediting such changes by 
collecting data on leading indicators in the middle of the school year 
so that schools have as much time as possible to implement alternative 
interventions. Another commenter called instead for close monitoring 
and reporting on school progress, coupled with assistance in helping 
the school to meet its progress goals.
    Discussion: In general, the Department believes that LEAs should 
have flexibility to determine the appropriate response when a Tier I or 
Tier II school implementing one of the four intervention models is not 
meeting the goals established under section II.A.7. In most cases, the 
Department would not recommend a quick decision either to change models 
or to reallocate school improvement funds to another school. Rather, an 
LEA should first take action to ensure that the selected intervention 
model is fully and effectively implemented. Turning around a 
persistently lowest-achieving school is not an easy task and, although 
the intervention models required by this final notice are intended to 
produce dramatic and rapid changes in such a school, such changes might 
not be reflected in improved achievement outcomes for a year or more. 
However, an LEA should expect to see significant improvement in leading 
indicators, such as improved attendance and fewer disciplinary 
incidents. If a Tier I or Tier II school simply proves unable or 
unwilling to successfully implement a school intervention model, an 
LEA, in consultation with its SEA, should consider stronger action, 
which may include starting over with a new model or reallocating school 
improvement funds to another school. Finally, the Department notes that 
an SEA may, if authorized under State law, take over either an LEA or a 
particular Tier I or Tier II school in order to implement effectively a 
school intervention model. However, in the absence of such a takeover, 
the SEA may not require an LEA to implement a particular school 
intervention model in a Tier I or Tier II school.
    Changes: We have added language in new section II.B.2(c) stating 
that ``[a]n SEA may, consistent with State law, take over an LEA or 
specific Tier I or Tier II schools in order to implement the 
interventions in these requirements.'' New section II.B.2(d) states 
that ``[a]n SEA may not require an LEA to implement a particular model 
in one or more schools unless the SEA has taken over the LEA or 
school.''
    Comment: Two commenters asked for clarification regarding the 
impact of the NPR on SEAs participating in the differentiated 
accountability pilot.
    Discussion: In 2008, the Department offered SEAs the opportunity to 
submit a proposal to participate in the differentiated accountability 
pilot. Through this pilot, nine SEAs whose proposals were approved 
received flexibility through a waiver under section 9401 of the ESEA to 
differentiate how they implement the school and LEA accountability 
requirements in section 1116 of the ESEA by, for example, categorizing 
schools for improvement, altering the school improvement timeline, or 
implementing different interventions based on severity of need. Any SEA 
that has been approved to participate in the differentiated 
accountability pilot may continue to do so. However, the SEA must 
ensure that its LEAs use school improvement funds available under 
section 1003(g) of the ESEA only to implement school intervention 
models consistent with this notice in their Tier I or Tier II schools. 
Thus, to the extent that a State's differentiated accountability plan 
is inconsistent with the requirements in this notice, an LEA receiving 
school improvement funds must use those funds in accordance with the 
requirements of this notice, even if the State's differentiated 
accountability plan would permit greater flexibility. To clarify this 
matter, we are adding a provision in section II.B.12 requiring an SEA 
participating in the differentiated accountability pilot to ensure that 
its LEAs use school improvement funds available under section 1003(g) 
in Tier I or Tier II schools consistent with these requirements.
    Changes: New section II.B.12 states that ``[a]n SEA that is 
participating in the `differentiated accountability pilot' must ensure 
that its LEAs use school improvement funds available under section 
1003(g) of the ESEA in a Tier I or Tier II school consistent with these 
requirements.''

Flexibility and Waivers

    Comment: One commenter recommended that the final notice permit 
SEAs and LEAs to use grant funds for a school currently funded with 
school improvement funds for one more year (without regard to the tiers 
and prescribed interventions in these final requirements) if the school 
is demonstrating significant progress and needs an additional year of 
assistance to meet its achievement goals.
    Discussion: The final requirements, in section I.B, Providing 
Flexibility, permit an SEA to award funds to an LEA to continue or 
complete an intervention, or part of an intervention, in a Tier I 
school that meets the requirements of the turnaround, restart, or 
transformation models. In addition, an LEA would be permitted to use 
its School Improvement Grant to continue funding previously implemented 
school improvement activities in Tier III schools. However, an LEA with 
Tier I and Tier II schools that currently are not implementing part or 
all of one of the school intervention models required by the final 
requirements is not permitted to use school improvement funds to 
continue existing improvement activities but, instead, must implement 
one of the four school intervention models in each of the Tier I and 
Tier II schools it commits to serve.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters supported the provision in proposed section 
I.B.3 allowing an SEA to request a waiver permitting a Tier I school 
that is ineligible to operate a schoolwide program and is operating a 
targeted assistance program to operate a schoolwide program in order to 
implement an intervention that meets the requirements for the 
turnaround, restart, and transformation models. However, another 
commenter objected that such a waiver would result in the provision of 
services to students who were not the intended beneficiaries of the 
Title I program. This commenter added that such a major departure in 
the Title I program should be addressed by Congress in statute and not 
through a waiver.
    Discussion: The Department appreciates the support of some 
commenters for the proposal that would permit an SEA to seek a waiver 
permitting a Title I school operating a targeted assistance program, 
and that is ineligible for a schoolwide program, to operate a 
schoolwide program in order to implement a turnaround, restart, or 
transformation model or to close a

[[Page 65643]]

school. The Department does not agree that such a waiver would be a 
major departure from the current Title I program, which already 
recognizes, through the existing schoolwide program authority, that 
improving the performance of an entire school often is the best way to 
serve the intended beneficiaries of the Title I program.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters supported the opportunity under 
proposed section I.B.2 for SEAs to request a waiver of the school 
improvement timeline under section 1116(b) of the ESEA for Tier I 
schools implementing the turnaround or restart models, with one 
commenter emphasizing that waiving existing school improvement 
requirements would give grantees the flexibility needed to focus on the 
interventions that would have the greatest impact on academic 
achievement. However, several other commenters did not support allowing 
Tier I schools to start over in the school improvement timeline, 
primarily because it would result in the loss of public school choice 
and supplemental educational services (SES) options for students 
attending those schools. One of these commenters also stated that SES, 
in particular, could help a Tier I school by improving the achievement 
of its students. Other commenters believed that it would be unfair to 
exempt only Tier I schools from ESEA school improvement requirements, 
and that schools should not be permitted to exit ESEA improvement 
status until they have improved student achievement. Other commenters 
suggested alternatives to the proposed waiver, such as providing a 
``blanket waiver'' to eligible schools to reduce administrative burdens 
on SEAs and LEAs; permitting schools that are improving student 
achievement to start over regardless of the intervention chosen; 
allowing Tier I schools to exit improvement status after one year of 
making AYP, rather than the two consecutive years required by current 
law and regulation; and allowing all schools receiving school 
improvement funds to start over in the ESEA improvement timeline. 
Finally, one commenter requested clarification of the duration of the 
proposed waiver of the school improvement timeline.
    Discussion: The Department appreciates the support of some 
commenters for the flexibility afforded by the proposal to permit an 
SEA to seek a waiver that would permit turnaround and restart schools 
to start over in the ESEA improvement timeline and, thus, gain an 
exemption from the requirements of section 1116 of the ESEA, including 
public school choice and SES options. We understand the concern of 
those commenters who argued that this waiver potentially results in the 
loss of public school choice and SES options to students in the 
persistently lowest-achieving schools, but we believe this loss is 
offset, at least partially, by the benefits to students from the 
implementation of the school intervention models. Further, the 
Department believes that the loss of these options is warranted only in 
the case of Tier I schools that are implementing the turnaround or 
restart models, and declines to modify or expand the application of the 
proposed waiver as recommended by some commenters. Finally, a waiver to 
start over in the improvement timeline would exempt a Tier I school 
from the requirements of section 1116 of the ESEA only for two years, 
after which time it, like any other school, would enter improvement 
status if it does not make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive 
years.
    Change: None.
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: As noted in section I.B, the Secretary invites SEAs to 
seek several waivers in order to enable their LEAs to implement the 
four school intervention models in these final requirements. Those 
waivers include: A waiver of section 1116(b)(12) of the ESEA to permit 
LEAs to allow Tier I schools that implement a turnaround or restart 
model to ``start over'' in the school improvement timeline; a waiver of 
the 40 percent poverty eligibility threshold in section 1114(a)(1) of 
the ESEA to permit LEAs to implement a schoolwide program in a Tier I 
targeted assistance school; a waiver of the requirements in section 
1003(g)(1) and (7) of the ESEA that limit the use of school improvement 
funds to Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, and 
restructuring in order to permit LEAs to use school improvement funds 
to serve Tier II schools; and a waiver of section 421(b) of the General 
Education Provisions Act to extend the period of availability of school 
improvement funds for the SEA and all its LEAs to September 30, 2013. 
Although the Secretary specifically invites SEAs to apply for these 
waivers, an LEA may seek a waiver if its SEA does not.
    Changes: New section I.B.4 clarifies that an SEA may seek a waiver 
from the Secretary to enable an LEA to use school Improvement funds to 
serve a Tier II secondary school. New section I.B.5 clarifies that an 
SEA may seek a waiver from the Secretary to extend the period of 
availability of school improvement funds beyond September 30, 2011 so 
as to make those funds available to the SEA and its LEAs for up to 
three years. New I.B.6 makes clear that, if an SEA does not seek a 
waiver under section I.B.2, 3, 4, or 5, an LEA may seek a waiver from 
the Secretary.

SEA Responsibilities

    Comment: One commenter objected to language in the preamble of the 
NPR encouraging SEAs to eliminate barriers to the implementation of the 
school intervention models, such as State laws, regulations, or 
policies that (1) limit the SEA's authority to intervene in low-
achieving schools, (2) limit the number of charter schools that may 
operate in the State, or (3) impede efforts to recruit and retain 
effective teachers and principals in low-achieving schools. The 
commenter particularly objected to what it described as encouraging the 
removal of limits on the number of charter schools operating in a State 
without regard to the quality of the schools.
    Discussion: The language opposed by this commenter is merely 
intended to encourage SEAs to expand their capacity to implement 
successfully the school intervention models described in this notice. 
In particular, States that unnecessarily or arbitrarily limit the 
number of charter schools operating within their boundaries limit the 
restart model as an available option for their persistently lowest-
achieving schools. However, the language in the preamble is not 
intended to promote unlimited expansion of charter schools regardless 
of quality. Indeed, the restart model requires the selection of a 
charter school operator, CMO, or EMO ``that has been selected through a 
rigorous review process.''
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that States be given greater 
discretion to limit the pool of LEAs applying for school improvement 
grants and to provide technical assistance in conducting a needs 
analysis and selecting appropriate interventions. The purpose of these 
changes would be to prevent LEAs from using scarce resources to prepare 
applications that are not likely to be funded (due to the size of 
School Improvement Grant allocations to States) and to ensure that LEAs 
with limited capacity to conduct comprehensive needs assessments 
receive the assistance they need to make the most of their School 
Improvement Grants. Another commenter recommended that SEAs be required 
to identify the poorest-performing LEAs with three or fewer schools 
that are not willing to implement one of the four

[[Page 65644]]

school intervention models, take those LEAs over, and require the 
schools in the LEAs to implement the turnaround model. This commenter 
also proposed giving parents the opportunity to recommend schools for 
``forced turnarounds.'' On the other hand, three commenters urged the 
Department to clarify in the final notice that LEAs have the authority 
to determine both the number of schools to be served and the models 
that will be implemented.
    Discussion: The Department believes that giving SEAs the discretion 
to limit the pool of LEAs that may apply for School Improvement Grants 
would be inconsistent with the goal of using the large amount of ARRA 
school improvement funding to successfully turn around as many of the 
Nation's persistently lowest-achieving schools as possible over the 
next three years. However, we agree that LEAs with limited capacity to 
undertake the required interventions should receive technical and other 
assistance from the State and external providers that will maximize 
their chances of success under this program. Also, new section 
II.B.10(a), which requires an SEA in a State in which all Tier I 
schools are not served to carry over a portion of its FY 2009 School 
Improvement Grant for a second competition in FY 2010, will give LEAs 
with limited capacity more time to conduct comprehensive assessments, 
select appropriate school intervention models, and identify external 
partners to help implement those models. We cannot require an SEA to 
take over LEAs that are unwilling or lack capacity to implement school 
intervention models in their persistently lowest-achieving schools; 
however, we are adding language in new section II.B.2(c) to clarify 
that an SEA may, if authorized under State law, take over either an LEA 
or a particular school in order to implement a school intervention 
model. In the absence of such a takeover, an SEA may not require an LEA 
to implement a particular school intervention model. The SEA role is to 
identify schools and assess LEA capacity to implement the four school 
intervention models, but the choice of interventions is up to the LEA.
    Changes: New section II.B.2(c) states that ``[a]n SEA may, 
consistent with State law, take over an LEA or specific Tier I or Tier 
II schools in order to implement the interventions in these 
requirements.'' In addition, new section II.B.2(d) states that ``[a]n 
SEA may not require an LEA to implement a particular model in one or 
more schools unless the SEA has taken over the LEA or school.''
    Comment: Two commenters recommended that the Department require 
SEAs to monitor LEA implementation of school improvement grants, 
including by making at least one onsite visit to each school. Another 
commenter recommended that SEAs be required to develop or identify 
rubrics for school needs assessments that schools and LEAs can use to 
plan school improvement activities and that SEAs also visit, or 
designate other organizations to visit, schools receiving school 
improvement funds in order to ensure that funded activities are well 
thought out and implemented as intended.
    Discussion: The Department believes that SEAs should have 
flexibility to develop or adopt tools that schools and LEAs can use to 
assess their school improvement needs and select appropriate 
interventions and to determine their own methods and procedures for 
monitoring LEA implementation of a School Improvement Grant; therefore, 
we decline to specify or require particular methods and procedures in 
this final notice. We note, however, that an SEA, under 34 CFR 
80.40(a), must monitor the day-to-day operations of activities 
supported with Federal funds, which would include School Improvement 
Grants. To reinforce this requirement, we have included a specific 
assurance to this effect in an SEA's application for a School 
Improvement Grant. In addition, we note that the leading indicators 
required in section III of the final requirements should provide a 
sound foundation for using data to monitor and hold LEAs accountable 
for effective use of school improvement funds and appropriate 
implementation of school intervention models, and we encourage SEAs to 
use these indicators, as well as others, for this purpose.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that SEAs be required to conduct 
a review of potential external partners using a rigorous standard that 
the SEA has developed in collaboration with stakeholder groups. This 
commenter further recommended that the standard for review require such 
partners to demonstrate several years of increasing student 
achievement. Other commenters recommended that the Department provide 
guidance on key elements necessary for performing a rigorous review, 
including definitions of CMOs and EMOs, and a process by which CMOs and 
EMOs report data on their effectiveness to the Department, including 
their impact on overall student achievement as well as achievement 
disaggregated by subgroups.
    Discussion: The Department has added definitions of CMO and EMO in 
section I.A.2(b). We also make clear in new section II.A.8 that an LEA 
must hold charter school operators, CMOs, and EMOs accountable for 
meeting these final requirements. We believe that SEAs and LEAs should 
have flexibility to determine their own rigorous review process for 
screening charter school operators, CMOs, and EMOs, and decline to 
regulate further in this area. However, we encourage SEAs to provide 
technical assistance and other support related to the selection of 
external providers and are requiring an SEA to explain in its 
application for a School Improvement Grant how it will use the school 
improvement funds the SEA retains at the State level to provide 
technical assistance to its LEAs.
    Changes: Section I.A.2(b) includes definitions of CMO and EMO. In 
addition, new section II.A.8 makes clear that an LEA must hold charter 
school operators, CMOs, and EMOs accountable for meeting the final 
requirements. Finally, section II.D requires an SEA to describe in its 
application to the Secretary for a School Improvement Grant how it will 
use the school improvement funds available at the State level. The SEA 
may use those funds to provide technical assistance to its LEAs.
    Comment: One commenter recommended requiring SEAs and LEAs to make 
funds available to partner CMOs and EMOs to help those organizations 
plan and build capacity to assist in implementing required school 
intervention models.
    Discussion: The Department expects that planning and capacity-
building related to the implementation of school intervention models 
will be part of LEA contracts with CMOs and EMOs, but believes that 
this should be a subject for negotiation between LEAs and their CMO and 
EMO partners and not for regulation by the Department. Similarly, SEAs 
may choose to contract with CMOs and EMOs, using the SEA share of 
school improvement funds, as part of their overall effort to build 
local capacity to carry out school intervention models in Tier I and 
Tier II schools; however, we decline to require such action on the part 
of SEAs.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters, citing the importance of building 
overall LEA capacity--both administratively and in areas related to 
school improvement--recommended that the Department place a stronger 
emphasis on planning and funding such capacity

[[Page 65645]]

building as part of the School Improvement Grants program. For example, 
two commenters recommended that SEAs be permitted to allocate a 
substantial portion of school improvement funds to developing the 
capacity at the LEA level to analyze school needs and match 
interventions to those needs, while another commenter requested 
guidance on how LEAs can reserve funds to create a ``turnaround 
office'' or to provide technical assistance and support to their Tier I 
schools. One commenter expressed concern that, because fewer LEAs have 
experience with high school improvement, LEAs may determine that they 
lack the capacity to serve high schools.
    Discussion: Section II.D of these final requirements requires an 
SEA, in its application for a School Improvement Grant to describe the 
activities it will undertake through the use of the school improvement 
funds the SEA may retain at the State level. Those activities could 
include supporting LEAs and schools in implementing the school 
intervention models required by this notice by (1) helping to identify 
new leaders and teachers; (2) helping to identify, screen, and select 
partners that will support selected intervention models; and (3) 
monitoring implementation of interventions and providing assistance 
where needed. In addition, LEAs have flexibility to include in their 
proposed budgets funding that they will use to build their capacity to 
support the effective implementation of required intervention models in 
participating Title I schools.
    Changes: Section II.D requires an SEA to describe in its 
application to the Secretary for a School Improvement Grant how it will 
use the school improvement funds available at the State level, for 
example, to provide technical assistance to its LEAs.
    Comment: One commenter noted that rural LEAs may require assistance 
in identifying technical assistance providers that can work with them 
to implement school improvement interventions because most of these 
providers are located in metropolitan areas.
    Discussion: The Department agrees with this commenter and notes 
that the SEA application released with this final notice requires SEAs 
to describe how they will use the school improvement funds they retain 
to provide technical assistance to their LEAs, which can include 
helping their LEAs, including rural LEAs, recruit, screen, and select 
potential partners that will assist in the implementation of school 
intervention models.
    Changes: Section II.D requires an SEA to describe in its 
application to the Secretary for a School Improvement Grant how it will 
use the school improvement funds available at the State level, for 
example, to provide technical assistance to its LEAs.
    Comment: One commenter recommended adding to the final notice the 
specific language in section 1003(g)(7) of the ESEA stating that an SEA 
may, with the approval of the LEA, directly provide for school 
improvement activities or arrange for their provision through other 
entities. Another commenter recommended expanding the list of examples 
of other entities to include comprehensive centers.
    Discussion: The Department believes that the statute is clear on 
the alternative to direct LEA subgrants and declines to include the 
proposed language in the final requirements. We note that, given the 
comprehensiveness of the four school intervention models, it will be 
necessary for any entity providing direct services to possess the 
requisite authority and control over local operations in order to 
implement those interventions in Tier I and Tier II schools.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that SEAs be required to submit 
a plan detailing how they will identify and share best practices from 
fast-improving schools.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that this information would be 
useful in general, but will not require SEAs to develop such plans.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: Section 1903(b) of the ESEA requires an SEA to consult 
with its Committee of Practitioners before issuing any rules, 
regulations, or policies under Title I that affect an LEA's 
participation in Title I programs. Because an SEA must include in its 
application for a School Improvement Grant policies that affect an 
LEA's participation in the program, such as the SEA's priorities for 
funding LEAs and how it will evaluate the strength of an LEA's 
commitment, the SEA must seek the advice of its Committee of 
Practitioners prior to finalizing these policies. In addition, we 
recommend that the SEA consult with other stakeholders not represented 
on the Committee of Practitioners, such as labor representatives, 
charter school authorizers, business leaders, and community organizers.
    Changes: New section II.B.13 clarifies that, before submitting its 
application for a School Improvement Grant to the Department, an SEA 
must consult with its Committee of Practitioners regarding the rules 
and policies contained therein and may consult with other stakeholders 
that have an interest in its application.

SEA Allocations

    Comment: A number of commenters supported the proposed requirements 
related to the allocation of school improvement funds to LEAs and 
schools, including concentrating funds on schools with the greatest 
need, serving Title I-eligible secondary schools, using more than 
$500,000 in individual schools, and making three-year awards. Two 
commenters expressed concern that, despite these provisions, funding 
would be insufficient to fully implement or sustain school 
interventions based on the turnaround or transformation models. One of 
these commenters recommended strengthening the assurance that SEAs 
provide the funds needed, over a number of years, to carry out required 
interventions, while the other commenter called for unconditional 
three-year awards with funding available beyond September 30, 2011. 
Other commenters suggested that we include more specific requirements 
for State subgrants of school improvement funds such as linking the 
size of LEA awards to school size, poverty level, and academic need; 
and making per-pupil allocations within minimum and maximum award 
levels.
    Discussion: The Department appreciates the comments supporting its 
efforts to ensure, within the limitations of the statute, that LEAs 
receive sufficient funds to match, as closely as possible, their multi-
year budgets for successful implementation of proposed school 
intervention models. The Department recognizes that implementing these 
models requires the commitment of significant resources over several 
years and has emphasized, in particular, that (1) LEAs have flexibility 
to spend more than $500,000 per year in their Tier I and Tier II 
schools, and (2) the Secretary will waive the period of availability of 
school improvement funds beyond September 30, 2011 so that these funds 
are available to LEAs for three years. We are adding language in 
section II.A.4 clarifying that an LEA's proposed budget must cover the 
period of availability of the school improvement funds, taking into 
account any such waiver. As noted under SEA Responsibilities in the 
preamble to the NPR, experts estimate that the cost of turning around a 
persistently lowest-achieving school with 500 students can range as 
high as $1,000,000 annually;

[[Page 65646]]

the School Improvement Grants program described in these final 
requirements has been structured to enable SEAs to provide this level 
of support for LEAs implementing the four school intervention models. 
We also decline to require SEAs to make unconditional three-year awards 
to LEAs. Rather, we believe an SEA needs the option not to renew an 
LEA's School Improvement Grant if its participating schools, 
particularly its Tier I and Tier II schools are not complying with 
these final requirements. Finally, LEAs have discretion to base their 
proposed budgets on a variety of factors, including factors suggested 
by the commenters, such as school size and poverty status. We also are 
clarifying in section II.A.4 that an LEA's budget may include less than 
$500,000 for a Tier I or Tier II school not only if the LEA proposes to 
implement the school closure model for such a school but also if it 
demonstrates that less funding is needed to implement the selected 
intervention.
    Changes: We have added language in section II.A.4 stating that 
``[t]he LEA's budget must cover the period of availability of the 
school improvement funds, taking into account any waivers extending the 
period of availability received by the SEA or LEA.'' Conforming 
language has been added to section II.B.9 regarding SEA 
responsibilities. Revised section II.A.4 also states that an LEA's 
budget for a Tier I or Tier II school may include less than $500,000 
per year ``if the LEA's budget shows that less funding is needed to 
implement its selected intervention fully and effectively.''
    Comment: A number of commenters raised concerns regarding the 
timing of School Improvement Grants, particularly with respect to the 
funds available through the regular FY 2009 appropriation. Two 
commenters objected to the Department's decision to combine the school 
improvement funds from the regular FY 2009 appropriation with the funds 
from the ARRA and award all school improvement funds following the 
submission of a new application by an SEA. The commenters noted that 
LEAs would then need to wait and delay planned improvements and 
restructuring activities for one full year. Another commenter asked 
whether the funds would be awarded in one grant award. One commenter 
stated that it would be difficult to spend school improvement funds in 
the 2009-2010 school year if it received the funds late in the year. 
One commenter recommended making two cohorts of School Improvement 
Grants, one in September 2010 and one in September 2011.
    Discussion: The Department understands, and to some degree shares, 
the concerns expressed by commenters regarding the timing of the award 
of FY 2009 school improvement funds. However, we have taken great care 
to balance the goal of maximizing the impact of the extraordinary 
amount of school improvement funds provided by the ARRA with the 
understandable desire of SEAs to access these funds on the usual award 
schedule. Ultimately, the Department decided that the potential 
benefits of this one-time opportunity to successfully turn around the 
Nation's persistently lowest-achieving schools justified a longer 
application and award process that will likely result in delaying 
significant expenditure of FY 2009 school improvement funds until the 
2010-2011 school year.
    However, in recognition of the challenges of administering FY 2009 
school improvement funds, including ARRA funds, consistent with this 
notice, we are adding language in the final requirements that would 
permit, and in some cases require, an SEA to carry over FY 2009 school 
improvement funds and award them in combination with FY 2010 school 
improvement funds (depending on the availability of appropriations). 
The new provisions are intended to (1) serve as many Tier I schools as 
possible with FY 2009 school improvement funds; (2) give SEAs that are 
able to serve all their Tier I schools with less than the full amount 
of their FY 2009 School Improvement Grant allocations the flexibility 
to reserve a portion of those funds to serve additional Tier I schools 
in the following year; and (3) accommodate the additional time that may 
be required by some LEAs to fully plan for the efficient and effective 
implementation of the four school intervention models in Tier I and 
Tier II schools and for significant interventions and supports for Tier 
III schools. Accordingly, an LEA could propose in its FY 2010 
application to serve those Tier I and Tier II schools that it did not 
include in its FY 2009 application.
    Changes: We have added new section II.B.10(a), which states that 
``[i]f not every Tier I school in a State is served with FY 2009 school 
improvement funds, an SEA must carry over 25 percent of its FY 2009 
funds, combine those funds with FY 2010 school improvement funds 
(depending on the availability of appropriations), and award those 
funds to eligible LEAs consistent with these requirements.'' This 
section does not require such carryover, however, if an SEA does not 
have sufficient school improvement funds to serve all the Tier I 
schools in the State. New section II.B.10(b) permits an SEA in which 
each Tier I school has been served with FY 2009 school improvement 
funds to ``reserve up to 25 percent of its FY 2009 allocation and award 
those funds in combination with its FY 2010 funds (depending on the 
availability of appropriations) consistent with these requirements.'' 
New section II.B.11 requires an SEA to exclude from any competition for 
school improvement funds following FY 2009 ``any school that was 
previously identified as a Tier I or Tier II school and in which an LEA 
is implementing one of the four interventions identified in these 
requirements using funds made available under section 1003(g) of the 
ESEA.''
    Comment: One commenter asked for clarification regarding which LEAs 
are eligible to receive school improvement funds. This commenter asked 
if only LEAs receiving funds in the first year of the grant are 
eligible to continue to receive funds under section 1003(g) for the 
three year period and whether additional Tier I and Tier II schools 
could receive funding at a later point.
    Discussion: In general, the FY 2009 School Improvement Grants 
covered by these final requirements are intended to provide funds to 
LEAs that commit to serve Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III schools 
beginning in the 2010-2011 school year. Although some SEAs with a 
limited number of Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III schools may have 
sufficient funding to make awards to other LEAs with Tier I, Tier II, 
and Tier III schools in future years, section II.E of this notice 
allows the Secretary to reallocate any such excess funds to other 
States. However, as discussed above, we are adding provisions to these 
final requirements permitting, and in some cases requiring, SEAs to 
reserve a portion of their FY 2009 school improvement funds, including 
ARRA funds, to make a second cohort of awards in combination with FY 
2010 funds (assuming the availability of a section 1003(g) 
appropriation in FY 2010). SEAs reserving FY 2009 funds in this manner 
would be able to make awards to additional Tier I, Tier II, and Tier 
III schools in the 2011-2012 school year.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters expressed concern about the 
emphasis the Department placed in the NPR on serving Tier I and Tier II 
schools, particularly in cases where there may not be sufficient 
funding available to make awards to all LEAs. For example, one 
commenter recommended allowing

[[Page 65647]]

SEAs to use school improvement funds for evidence-based interventions 
to stop further declines in the performance of Tier III schools. 
Another commenter claimed that there is no statutory basis for the 
provision in proposed section II.B.7, which would allow SEAs to ensure 
an appropriate geographic distribution of Tier I and Tier II schools 
that are served by the School Improvement Grants program. One commenter 
suggested as an alternative limiting the number of funded Tier III 
schools unless an LEA is serving all of its Tier I and Tier II schools.
    Discussion: The purpose of the School Improvement Grants program, 
as implemented in the final requirements, is not to serve all LEAs with 
schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring, but to 
take advantage of the large amount of funding provided by the ARRA to 
enable LEAs with the persistently lowest-achieving schools in each 
State (i.e., Tier I and Tier II schools) to implement effectively 
selected intervention models that hold the most potential for breaking 
the cycle of educational failure in these schools. The Department 
believes that, by requiring each SEA to identify its persistently 
lowest-achieving schools and to require LEAs seeking a School 
Improvement Grant to undertake certain interventions in these schools, 
it is, consistent with the statutory requirement, ensuring that those 
LEAs with both the greatest need and the strongest commitment to making 
effective use of such funds are being served. Consequently, we believe 
it is appropriate, in situations where total available funding is 
insufficient to serve all LEAs, for SEAs to give priority first to LEAs 
with Tier I and Tier II schools and then to LEAs with Tier I schools, 
rather than expanding support for less needy Tier III schools.
    The priority on Tier I and Tier II schools is not intended to 
result in the geographic concentration of School Improvement Grants; 
however, such a concentration could occur in some States where large 
numbers of Tier I and Tier II schools are located in a handful of LEAs. 
Hence, we are including the provision in section II.B.7 that allows, 
but does not require, an SEA to ensure that such schools can be served 
throughout the State. We believe this flexibility is supported by the 
language in the statute permitting an SEA to determine which LEAs have 
the greatest need for and strongest commitment to use school 
improvement funds.
    Changes: We have revised section II.B.4 to make clear that, if an 
SEA does not have sufficient school improvement funds to award, for up 
to three years, a grant to each LEA that submits an approvable 
application, the SEA must first give priority to LEAs that apply to 
serve both Tier I and Tier II schools and then give priority to LEAs 
that apply to serve Tier I schools.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department establish an 
absolute priority for LEAs implementing the restart model, claiming 
that it was the most rigorous of the proposed school intervention 
models.
    Discussion: The Department does not believe it would be appropriate 
to give priority to any particular model in situations where 
insufficient funding is available to serve all Tier I and Tier II 
schools, as such an approach would unfairly favor those LEAs in which 
the chosen model could most readily be implemented. For example, 
favoring the restart model could disadvantage rural areas where few 
CMOs or EMOs may choose to operate.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that Tier II schools with feeder 
schools participating in Title I should generate funding under the 
School Improvement Grants program.
    Discussion: Only participating Title I schools in improvement, 
corrective action, or restructuring generate funding under the 
requirements in section 1003(g) of the ESEA, which authorizes the 
School Improvement Grants program. We have no authority to alter that 
requirement through regulatory action.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department should revise 
school improvement funding requirements in the final notice to help 
address the growing school financial inequity in virtually every 
American metropolitan area.
    Discussion: The Department believes that the large amount of school 
improvement funds provided by the ARRA, coupled with the final 
requirements to provide concentrated, multi-year awards to support the 
successful implementation of four school intervention models, carries 
the potential for addressing the funding inequities that affect many of 
the Nation's persistently lowest-achieving schools. However, the 
statutory focus of the School Improvement Grants program is on low-
achieving schools--i.e., Title I schools in improvement, corrective 
action, or restructuring--and not on funding equity.
    Changes: None.

SEA Share of Allocations

    Comment: Several commenters said that there is an immediate need 
for school improvement funds at the State level. One commenter asked 
whether the start date of the availability of the school improvement 
funds would be retroactive to July 1, 2009 so that an SEA could 
reimburse itself for costs incurred prior to the receipt of its School 
Improvement Grant, noting that these funds are needed to provide 
technical assistance to LEAs to support current school improvement 
activities. Another commenter asked whether an SEA could access school 
improvement funds reserved under section 1003(a) of the ESEA that 
exceed the five percent authorized in the statute.
    Discussion: In recognition of the immediate costs that SEAs are 
likely to incur in providing school improvement-related technical and 
other assistance to LEAs, the Department has decided to make available 
immediately the full five percent share of FY 2009 school improvement 
funds that an SEA may reserve under section 1003(g)(8) of the ESEA for 
administration, technical assistance, and evaluation purposes, 
including removing barriers to and setting the conditions for 
implementing the school intervention models in Tier I and Tier II 
schools.
    Changes: The Department is not making any changes to the final 
requirements in response to these comments but, as described elsewhere 
in this document, will immediately award to each State the five percent 
of its FY 2009 School Improvement Grant, including both the regular FY 
2009 appropriation for School Improvement Grants and funds provided by 
the ARRA, that SEAs may reserve under section 1003(g)(8) of the ESEA 
for administration, technical assistance, and evaluation purposes.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department waive 
the statutory five percent cap on the amount of school improvement 
funds an SEA may reserve for administration, technical assistance, and 
evaluation purposes. These commenters cited a variety of State 
responsibilities under the School Improvement Grants program that may 
require additional funding, such as intensive planning and consultation 
with school improvement partners, the development and administration of 
a rigorous application process, technical assistance to LEAs on 
evaluating and choosing external partners, determining LEA capacity to 
implement models, compliance monitoring, and direct State intervention 
in low-achieving schools

[[Page 65648]]

and LEAs. However, one commenter called for strict adherence to the 
five-percent cap, even in cases where State allocations are spent over 
a two-year period.
    Discussion: The Department acknowledges that SEAs have significant 
administrative responsibilities under the School Improvement Grants 
program and, as noted earlier, has taken two actions to address this 
concern. First, the Secretary published in the Federal Register a 
notice of final adjustments that permits each SEA to reserve an 
additional percentage of Title I, Part A funds (0.3 or 0.5 percent of 
its Title I, Part A ARRA allocation, depending on whether the SEA 
requests waivers of certain requirements) to help defray the costs 
associated with data collection and reporting requirements under the 
ARRA (74 FR 55215 (Oct. 27, 2009)). This increase in State 
administrative funds may be used to support data collection activities 
associated with ARRA funds, including those required by ARRA School 
Improvement Grants. Second, the Secretary is awarding immediately the 
full amount each State may reserve from its FY 2009 allocation of 
school improvement funds (including its ARRA School Improvement Grant) 
for State administration, technical assistance, and evaluation. These 
funds may be used at the State level for such activities as preparing 
the State application and developing LEA applications as well as 
providing technical assistance to LEAs with persistently lowest-
achieving schools that will be likely to receive school improvement 
funds. The Secretary believes that, together, these actions should 
provide sufficient funds to cover an SEA's administrative costs.
    Changes: None.

Reporting Metrics

    Comment: Several commenters supported the reporting metrics 
proposed in the NPR, including the use of multiple measures of school 
performance such as instructional minutes, enrollment in advanced 
coursework, attendance, discipline, and truancy. Other commenters 
viewed some of the metrics as unnecessary, citing, in particular, 
instructional minutes and teacher attendance. One commenter indicated 
that the proposed measures will not yield the information LEAs need to 
track the progress of reform strategies, because the metrics do not 
address professional development, formative assessments, time for 
collaboration, and family/community engagement. Finally, one commenter 
recommended that SEAs be required to collect data on the distribution 
of teachers in the highest and lowest performance quartiles, while 
another claimed that the proposed collection of information on the 
distribution of teachers by performance level and on teacher attendance 
exceeded the Department's statutory authority and is not supported by 
research. This commenter also expressed concern about the possible 
manipulation of such data, urging the Department instead to collect 
data on teachers assigned out of field, teachers teaching with 
emergency permits, teacher turnover, and teacher satisfaction.
    Discussion: The Department appreciates the expressions of support 
for the reporting metrics included in the NPR. We recognize that there 
are many possible progress and outcome indicators that could be used to 
measure the effectiveness of the school intervention models, and the 
metrics included in the NPR reflected careful consideration of the best 
combination of existing and new indicators that we believed would 
achieve this goal while minimizing data collection burdens on SEAs and 
LEAs. We disagree with the commenters who stated that some of these 
indicators are unnecessary. In particular, we believe indicators of the 
length of the school year and teacher attendance rates measure 
essential aspects of successful school interventions, i.e., the use of 
additional time to improve instruction and changes that improve working 
conditions for teachers. However, we are slightly modifying these two 
indicators in the final requirements, changing ``number of 
instructional minutes'' to ``number of minutes within the school year'' 
to acknowledge that increases in the length of the school day or year 
are not only for instructional purposes, and clarifying that by 
``teacher attendance'' we mean ``teacher attendance rate.'' Also, we 
are retaining the requirement for SEAs to collect data on the 
distribution of teachers by performance level on an LEA's teacher 
evaluation system, as we believe that collecting such data, as well as 
teacher attendance rate data, is fully consistent with the ARRA's 
emphasis on improving teacher effectiveness and the distribution of 
effective teachers. We also believe that efforts to manipulate such 
data are likely to be transparent and thus, if evident, will facilitate 
monitoring and accountability efforts.
    Changes: We have changed ``Number of instructional minutes'' to 
``Number of minutes within the school year'' and ``Teacher attendance'' 
to ``Teacher attendance rate.''
    Comment: A large number of commenters recommended further changes 
and additions to the reporting metrics. A number of the commenters, for 
example, suggested modifications to proposed data elements, such as 
collecting the data over time; comparing the data for School 
Improvement Grant recipients with other schools in the State; ensuring 
the comparability of teacher attendance data across States and LEAs; 
defining the term ``advanced coursework''; and measuring completion 
rather than enrollment in advanced courses. Other commenters suggested 
that we add metrics, such as Title I eligibility and participation 
data; achievement data from the National Assessment of Educational 
Progress (NAEP); data on completion of a college-and-career-ready 
course of study; the proficiency scores of students with limited 
English proficiency; data on the type of English proficiency 
instructional programs offered at the schools receiving school 
improvement funds; and program participation and achievement data for 
limited English proficient students. Other commenters suggested 
additional metrics related to parent and family involvement, expanding 
learning time, music, art, foreign languages, physical education, 
class-size ratios, classes taught in temporary settings, parental 
participation, school safety, professional development, longitudinal 
surveys of high school graduates, and qualitative data.
    Discussion: Although we appreciate the many suggestions that 
commenters offered regarding additional data that might be collected 
for Tier I and Tier II schools, we think requiring the collection of 
data on additional metrics would be burdensome on SEAs and LEAs to 
collect and report relative to how useful the data would be in 
evaluating the effectiveness of LEA implementation of the school 
intervention models. Thus, we decline to add these proposed additional 
measures to the reporting metrics in the final requirements, though we 
would hasten to add that SEAs and LEAs are encouraged to collect and 
use any data above and beyond these requirements that they believe will 
assist in the effective implementation of the four school intervention 
models. In addition, we do agree with recommendations to clarify 
certain indicators in the NPR, particularly with regard to the 
collection of data over time and to advanced coursework. To clarify 
that we want to compare changes in these indicators over time, we are 
including in the final requirements a new section III.A.4, requiring an 
SEA to report all metrics for the school year prior to

[[Page 65649]]

implementation of the school intervention models, to serve as a 
baseline, and for each of the following years for which the SEA 
receives a School Improvement Grant. We also agree that the number and 
percentage of students completing advanced coursework would be more 
meaningful than the number and percentage of students enrolled in 
advanced coursework.
    Changes: We have modified the reporting metric on advanced 
coursework in high schools to require the SEA to report on the number 
and percentage of students in Tier I and Tier II schools completing 
such coursework, rather than merely enrolling in these courses. We also 
have added the following language in section III.A.4 that applies to 
all reporting metrics: ``An SEA must report these metrics for the 
school year prior to implementing the intervention, if the data are 
available, to serve as a baseline, and for each year thereafter for 
which the SEA allocates school improvement funds under section 1003(g) 
of the ESEA.''
    Comment: Several commenters urged the Department to clarify that 
``average scores on State assessments across subgroups'' means 
``average scores on State assessments by subgroups.''
    Discussion: We agree that this indicator was unclear in the NPR, 
and are modifying its language in the final requirements. Specifically, 
we are clarifying that the average scale scores are on the State's 
reading/language arts and mathematics assessments; that they are by 
grade assessed; that they are for the ``all students'' group and for 
each subgroup identified in 34 CFR 200.13(b)(7); and that they are to 
be broken down by achievement quartile.
    Changes: We have changed this indicator to read as follows: 
``Average scale scores on State assessments in reading/language arts 
and in mathematics, by grade, for the `all students' group, for each 
achievement quartile, and for each subgroup.''
    Comment: One commenter noted that some States have alternate 
assessments that use a different scale than the regular assessments and 
contended that it would not be possible to generate an average scale 
score for all students assessed.
    Discussion: We are clarifying, in the FAQ document that we intend 
to release soon after these requirements that States using a different 
scale for alternate assessments may submit average scale scores for all 
students assessed on regular assessments and average scale scores, if 
available, for students assessed using alternate assessments.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Multiple commenters contended that the Reporting Metrics, 
particularly those that involve new data collections, will be 
administratively burdensome for SEAs and LEAs, with one commenter 
suggesting that the Department refrain from adding new reporting 
requirements until reauthorization of the ESEA. Another commenter 
recommended restricting reporting measures to those that States can 
collect through the LEA application and that the Department can collect 
through EDFacts. One commenter called for flexibility on the timing of 
when LEAs will have to report information not currently collected, 
while others recommended additional funding for reporting and 
evaluation activities, including the reservation of one percent of 
school improvement funds for this purpose.
    Discussion: As shown in the table on reporting metrics included in 
the NPR, the Department exercised great care in selecting achievement 
measures and leading indicators that would minimize collection and 
reporting burdens on SEAs and LEAs. For example, only five of 20 
proposed indicators were new for the School Improvement Grants program; 
others already are provided through EDFacts or reporting required by 
the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. This approach has been maintained 
in these final requirements; therefore, the Department declines to 
permit SEAs to reserve additional School Improvement Grants funding for 
the collection and reporting of performance indicators. However, as 
discussed earlier in this final notice, the Secretary recently 
published in the Federal Register (74 FR 55215) a notice of final 
adjustments that permits each State to reserve an additional percentage 
of Title I, Part A funds (0.3 or 0.5 percent of its Title I, Part A 
ARRA allocation, depending on whether an SEA requests waivers of 
certain requirements) to help defray the costs associated with data 
collection and reporting requirements under the ARRA, including data 
collection activities related to ARRA School Improvement Grants.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters raised concerns about tracking the academic 
achievement of students from a closed school who enroll in a higher-
achieving school to determine if their new school has contributed to 
improving their achievement. One of these commenters stated that it 
would be very burdensome to separate and aggregate the assessment 
results of only the students who move from a closed school.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that it may be administratively 
burdensome to follow the progress of students who transfer to another, 
higher-achieving school under the school closure model; therefore, 
although we encourage SEAs or LEAs to conduct their own analysis, we 
decline to require such reporting. However, school closure accomplishes 
the goal of providing better educational opportunities to students in 
persistently lowest-achieving schools, and the schools to which these 
students transfer, to the extent they are schools receiving Title I 
funds, will be held accountable for their performance under the regular 
ESEA accountability requirements. The Department is clarifying in new 
section III.A.4 that, with respect to a school that is closed, an SEA 
need only report the identity of the school and the intervention 
taken--i.e., school closure.
    Changes: Section III.A.4 clarifies that, with respect to a school 
that is closed, an SEA need report only the identity of the school and 
the intervention taken--i.e., school closure.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that SEAs be required to provide 
the Department with a list of the Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III schools 
being funded. This commenter also recommended that the Department post 
State applications on its Web site to ensure transparency. Another 
commenter recommended that SEAs and LEAs be required to make freely 
available information on all outputs produced through these grants in 
order to promote the greatest possible impact of this investment.
    Discussion: The Department proposed in section III.A.2 of the NPR 
requiring SEAs to report, for each LEA receiving school improvement 
funds under this notice, a list of schools that were served and the 
amount of funds or value of services each school received. The 
Department is retaining this language in the final requirements. Also, 
we agree that posting SEA School Improvement Grant applications on the 
Department's Web site would provide valuable transparency for this 
program and we intend to do so. Moreover, because we believe that 
posting LEA applications would be most useful for this purpose, we are 
adding language in section II.B.3 of the final requirements, under SEA 
Responsibilities, to require SEAs to post final LEA applications on 
their Web sites as well as a summary of those grants that includes the 
following information: the name and NCES identification number of each 
LEA awarded a grant; the amount of each LEA's grant; the name and NCES 
identification number of each school to be served; and the type of 
intervention to be implemented in each Tier I and

[[Page 65650]]

Tier II school. We decline to add a provision requiring SEAs and LEAs 
to make available ``outputs'' produced through the use of school 
improvement funds.
    Change: New section II.B.3 states that ``[a]n SEA must post on its 
Web site all final LEA applications for School Improvement Grants as 
well as a summary of those grants that includes the following 
information:
    (a) Name and NCES identification number of each LEA awarded a 
grant.
    (b) Amount of each LEA's grant.
    (c) Name and NCES identification number of each school to be 
served.
    (d) Type of intervention to be implemented in each Tier I and Tier 
II school.''

Evaluation

    Comment: One commenter called for a quantitative and qualitative 
evaluation of activities funded with School Improvement Grants at the 
LEA and school levels.
    Discussion: The Department currently is developing plans for a 
comprehensive evaluation of the School Improvement Grants program 
described in this notice and will provide more information at a later 
date.
    Changes: None.

ED Technical Assistance

    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department provide 
technical assistance and support to SEAs in implementing the School 
Improvement Grants program, including on the criteria SEAs should use 
to determine if an LEA has the capacity to implement the selected 
interventions and on best practices for continuing LEA oversight and 
feedback to schools implementing the school intervention models. One of 
these commenters pointed out that the Department is in the best 
position to provide information on what is working well across a broad 
range of States and LEAs.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that it should provide a variety 
of technical assistance to SEAs implementing the School Improvement 
Grants program, and intends to do so. As an initial example of such 
assistance, concurrently with the availability of the SEA application 
package, we have issued FAQs to help clarify various aspects of the 
School Improvement Grant program for SEAs, LEAs, and schools.
    Changes: None.
    Final Requirements: The Secretary issues the following requirements 
with respect to the allocation and use of School Improvement Grants. 
The Secretary may use these requirements for any year in which funds 
are appropriated for School Improvement Grants authorized under section 
1003(g) of the ESEA.
    As noted earlier, the final requirements with respect to the 
definitions of persistently lowest-achieving schools, increased 
learning time, and student growth as well as the four school 
intervention models were issued in the State Fiscal Stabilization Funds 
Notice of Final Requirements, Definitions, and Approval Criteria. They 
are included verbatim in this notice for the ease of SEAs and LEAs that 
receive a School Improvement Grant.

I. SEA Priorities in Awarding School Improvement Grants

    A. Defining Key Terms. To award School Improvement Grants to its 
LEAs, consistent with section 1003(g)(6) of the ESEA, an SEA must 
define three tiers of schools, in accordance with the requirements in 
paragraph 1, to enable the SEA to select those LEAs with the greatest 
need for such funds. From among the LEAs in greatest need, the SEA must 
select, in accordance with paragraph 2, those LEAs that demonstrate the 
strongest commitment to ensuring that the funds are used to provide 
adequate resources to enable the lowest-achieving schools to meet the 
accountability requirements in this notice. Accordingly, an SEA must 
use the following definitions to define key terms:
    1. Greatest need. An LEA with the greatest need for a School 
Improvement Grant must have one or more schools in at least one of the 
following tiers:
    (a) Tier I schools: A Tier I school is a Title I school in 
improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that is identified by 
the SEA under paragraph (a)(1) of the definition of ``persistently 
lowest-achieving schools.''
    (b) Tier II schools: A Tier II school is a secondary school that is 
eligible for, but does not receive, Title I, Part A funds and is 
identified by the SEA under paragraph (a)(2) of the definition of 
``persistently lowest-achieving schools.''
    (c) Tier III schools: A Tier III school is a Title I school in 
improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that is not a Tier I 
school. An SEA may establish additional criteria to use in setting 
priorities among LEA applications for funding and to encourage LEAs to 
differentiate among these schools in their use of school improvement 
funds.
    2. Strongest commitment. An LEA with the strongest commitment is an 
LEA that agrees to implement, and demonstrates the capacity to 
implement fully and effectively, one of the following rigorous 
interventions in each Tier I and Tier II school that the LEA commits to 
serve:
    (a) Turnaround model: (1) A turnaround model is one in which an LEA 
must--
    (i) Replace the principal and grant the principal sufficient 
operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars/time, and 
budgeting) to implement fully a comprehensive approach in order to 
substantially improve student achievement outcomes and increase high 
school graduation rates;
    (ii) Using locally adopted competencies to measure the 
effectiveness of staff who can work within the turnaround environment 
to meet the needs of students,
    (A) Screen all existing staff and rehire no more than 50 percent; 
and
    (B) Select new staff;
    (iii) Implement such strategies as financial incentives, increased 
opportunities for promotion and career growth, and more flexible work 
conditions that are designed to recruit, place, and retain staff with 
the skills necessary to meet the needs of the students in the 
turnaround school;
    (iv) Provide staff ongoing, high-quality, job-embedded professional 
development that is aligned with the school's comprehensive 
instructional program and designed with school staff to ensure that 
they are equipped to facilitate effective teaching and learning and 
have the capacity to successfully implement school reform strategies;
    (v) Adopt a new governance structure, which may include, but is not 
limited to, requiring the school to report to a new ``turnaround 
office'' in the LEA or SEA, hire a ``turnaround leader'' who reports 
directly to the Superintendent or Chief Academic Officer, or enter into 
a multi-year contract with the LEA or SEA to obtain added flexibility 
in exchange for greater accountability;
    (vi) Use data to identify and implement an instructional program 
that is research-based and vertically aligned from one grade to the 
next as well as aligned with State academic standards;
    (vii) Promote the continuous use of student data (such as from 
formative, interim, and summative assessments) to inform and 
differentiate instruction in order to meet the academic needs of 
individual students;
    (viii) Establish schedules and implement strategies that provide 
increased learning time (as defined in this notice); and

[[Page 65651]]

    (ix) Provide appropriate social-emotional and community-oriented 
services and supports for students.
    (2) A turnaround model may also implement other strategies such 
as--
    (i) Any of the required and permissible activities under the 
transformation model; or
    (ii) A new school model (e.g., themed, dual language academy).
    (b) Restart model: A restart model is one in which an LEA converts 
a school or closes and reopens a school under a charter school 
operator, a charter management organization (CMO), or an education 
management organization (EMO) that has been selected through a rigorous 
review process. (A CMO is a non-profit organization that operates or 
manages charter schools by centralizing or sharing certain functions 
and resources among schools. An EMO is a for-profit or non-profit 
organization that provides ``whole-school operation'' services to an 
LEA.) A restart model must enroll, within the grades it serves, any 
former student who wishes to attend the school.
    (c) School closure: School closure occurs when an LEA closes a 
school and enrolls the students who attended that school in other 
schools in the LEA that are higher achieving. These other schools 
should be within reasonable proximity to the closed school and may 
include, but are not limited to, charter schools or new schools for 
which achievement data are not yet available.
    (d) Transformation model: A transformation model is one in which an 
LEA implements each of the following strategies:
    (1) Developing and increasing teacher and school leader 
effectiveness.
    (i) Required activities. The LEA must--
    (A) Replace the principal who led the school prior to commencement 
of the transformation model;
    (B) Use rigorous, transparent, and equitable evaluation systems for 
teachers and principals that--
    (1) Take into account data on student growth (as defined in this 
notice) as a significant factor as well as other factors such as 
multiple observation-based assessments of performance and ongoing 
collections of professional practice reflective of student achievement 
and increased high school graduations rates; and
    (2) Are designed and developed with teacher and principal 
involvement;
    (C) Identify and reward school leaders, teachers, and other staff 
who, in implementing this model, have increased student achievement and 
high school graduation rates and identify and remove those who, after 
ample opportunities have been provided for them to improve their 
professional practice, have not done so;
    (D) Provide staff ongoing, high-quality, job-embedded professional 
development (e.g., regarding subject-specific pedagogy, instruction 
that reflects a deeper understanding of the community served by the 
school, or differentiated instruction) that is aligned with the 
school's comprehensive instructional program and designed with school 
staff to ensure they are equipped to facilitate effective teaching and 
learning and have the capacity to successfully implement school reform 
strategies; and
    (E) Implement such strategies as financial incentives, increased 
opportunities for promotion and career growth, and more flexible work 
conditions that are designed to recruit, place, and retain staff with 
the skills necessary to meet the needs of the students in a 
transformation school.
    (ii) Permissible activities. An LEA may also implement other 
strategies to develop teachers' and school leaders' effectiveness, such 
as--
    (A) Providing additional compensation to attract and retain staff 
with the skills necessary to meet the needs of the students in a 
transformation school;
    (B) Instituting a system for measuring changes in instructional 
practices resulting from professional development; or
    (C) Ensuring that the school is not required to accept a teacher 
without the mutual consent of the teacher and principal, regardless of 
the teacher's seniority.
    (2) Comprehensive instructional reform strategies.
    (i) Required activities. The LEA must--
    (A) Use data to identify and implement an instructional program 
that is research-based and vertically aligned from one grade to the 
next as well as aligned with State academic standards; and
    (B) Promote the continuous use of student data (such as from 
formative, interim, and summative assessments) to inform and 
differentiate instruction in order to meet the academic needs of 
individual students.
    (ii) Permissible activities. An LEA may also implement 
comprehensive instructional reform strategies, such as--
    (A) Conducting periodic reviews to ensure that the curriculum is 
being implemented with fidelity, is having the intended impact on 
student achievement, and is modified if ineffective;
    (B) Implementing a schoolwide ``response-to-intervention'' model;
    (C) Providing additional supports and professional development to 
teachers and principals in order to implement effective strategies to 
support students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment 
and to ensure that limited English proficient students acquire language 
skills to master academic content;
    (D) Using and integrating technology-based supports and 
interventions as part of the instructional program; and
    (E) In secondary schools--
    (1) Increasing rigor by offering opportunities for students to 
enroll in advanced coursework (such as Advanced Placement; 
International Baccalaureate; or science, technology, engineering, and 
mathematics courses, especially those that incorporate rigorous and 
relevant project-, inquiry-, or design-based contextual learning 
opportunities), early-college high schools, dual enrollment programs, 
or thematic learning academies that prepare students for college and 
careers, including by providing appropriate supports designed to ensure 
that low-achieving students can take advantage of these programs and 
coursework;
    (2) Improving student transition from middle to high school through 
summer transition programs or freshman academies;
    (3) Increasing graduation rates through, for example, credit-
recovery programs, re-engagement strategies, smaller learning 
communities, competency-based instruction and performance-based 
assessments, and acceleration of basic reading and mathematics skills; 
or
    (4) Establishing early-warning systems to identify students who may 
be at risk of failing to achieve to high standards or graduate.
    (3) Increasing learning time and creating community-oriented 
schools.
    (i) Required activities. The LEA must--
    (A) Establish schedules and strategies that provide increased 
learning time (as defined in this notice); and
    (B) Provide ongoing mechanisms for family and community engagement.
    (ii) Permissible activities. An LEA may also implement other 
strategies that extend learning time and create community-oriented 
schools, such as--
    (A) Partnering with parents and parent organizations, faith- and 
community-based organizations, health clinics, other State or local 
agencies, and others to create safe school environments that meet 
students' social, emotional, and health needs;

[[Page 65652]]

    (B) Extending or restructuring the school day so as to add time for 
such strategies as advisory periods that build relationships between 
students, faculty, and other school staff;
    (C) Implementing approaches to improve school climate and 
discipline, such as implementing a system of positive behavioral 
supports or taking steps to eliminate bullying and student harassment; 
or
    (D) Expanding the school program to offer full-day kindergarten or 
pre-kindergarten.
    (4) Providing operational flexibility and sustained support.
    (i) Required activities. The LEA must--
    (A) Give the school sufficient operational flexibility (such as 
staffing, calendars/time, and budgeting) to implement fully a 
comprehensive approach to substantially improve student achievement 
outcomes and increase high school graduation rates; and
    (B) Ensure that the school receives ongoing, intensive technical 
assistance and related support from the LEA, the SEA, or a designated 
external lead partner organization (such as a school turnaround 
organization or an EMO).
    (ii) Permissible activities. The LEA may also implement other 
strategies for providing operational flexibility and intensive support, 
such as--
    (A) Allowing the school to be run under a new governance 
arrangement, such as a turnaround division within the LEA or SEA; or
    (B) Implementing a per-pupil school-based budget formula that is 
weighted based on student needs.
    3. Definitions.
    Increased learning time means using a longer school day, week, or 
year schedule to significantly increase the total number of school 
hours to include additional time for (a) instruction in core academic 
subjects including English, reading or language arts, mathematics, 
science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, 
history, and geography; (b) instruction in other subjects and 
enrichment activities that contribute to a well-rounded education, 
including, for example, physical education, service learning, and 
experiential and work-based learning opportunities that are provided by 
partnering, as appropriate, with other organizations; and (c) teachers 
to collaborate, plan, and engage in professional development within and 
across grades and subjects.\5\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ Research supports the effectiveness of well-designed 
programs that expand learning time by a minimum of 300 hours per 
school year. (See Frazier, Julie A.; Morrison, Frederick J. ``The 
Influence of Extended-year Schooling on Growth of Achievement and 
Perceived Competence in Early Elementary School.'' Child 
Development. Vol. 69 (2), April 1998, pp. 495-497 and research done 
by Mass2020.) Extending learning into before- and after-school hours 
can be difficult to implement effectively, but is permissible under 
this definition with encouragement to closely integrate and 
coordinate academic work between in school and out of school. (See 
James-Burdumy, Susanne; Dynarski, Mark; Deke, John. ``When 
Elementary Schools Stay Open Late: Results from The National 
Evaluation of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program.'' 
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Vol. 29 (4), December 
2007, Document No. PP07-121.) http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/
publications/redirect_PubsDB.asp?strSite=http://epa.sagepub.com/
cgi/content/abstract/29/4/296.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Persistently lowest-achieving schools means, as determined by the 
State--
    (a)(1) Any Title I school in improvement, corrective action, or 
restructuring that--
    (i) Is among the lowest-achieving five percent of Title I schools 
in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring or the lowest-
achieving five Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or 
restructuring in the State, whichever number of schools is greater; or
    (ii) Is a high school that has had a graduation rate as defined in 
34 CFR 200.19(b) that is less than 60 percent over a number of years; 
and
    (2) Any secondary school that is eligible for, but does not 
receive, Title I funds that--
    (i) Is among the lowest-achieving five percent of secondary schools 
or the lowest-achieving five secondary schools in the State that are 
eligible for, but do not receive, Title I funds, whichever number of 
schools is greater; or
    (ii) Is a high school that has had a graduation rate as defined in 
34 CFR 200.19(b) that is less than 60 percent over a number of years.
    (b) To identify the lowest-achieving schools, a State must take 
into account both--
    (i) The academic achievement of the ``all students'' group in a 
school in terms of proficiency on the State's assessments under section 
1111(b)(3) of the ESEA in reading/language arts and mathematics 
combined; and
    (ii) The school's lack of progress on those assessments over a 
number of years in the ``all students'' group.
    Student growth means the change in achievement for an individual 
student between two or more points in time. For grades in which the 
State administers summative assessments in reading/language arts and 
mathematics, student growth data must be based on a student's score on 
the State's assessment under section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA. A State 
may also include other measures that are rigorous and comparable across 
classrooms.
    4. Evidence of strongest commitment. (a) In determining the 
strength of an LEA's commitment to ensuring that school improvement 
funds are used to provide adequate resources to enable persistently 
lowest-achieving schools to improve student achievement substantially, 
an SEA must consider, at a minimum, the extent to which the LEA's 
application demonstrates that the LEA has taken, or will take, action 
to--
    (i) Analyze the needs of its schools and select an intervention for 
each school;
    (ii) Design and implement interventions consistent with these 
requirements;
    (iii) Recruit, screen, and select external providers, if 
applicable, to ensure their quality;
    (iv) Align other resources with the interventions;
    (v) Modify its practices or policies, if necessary, to enable it to 
implement the interventions fully and effectively; and
    (vi) Sustain the reforms after the funding period ends.
    (b) The SEA must consider the LEA's capacity to implement the 
interventions and may approve the LEA to serve only those Tier I and 
Tier II schools for which the SEA determines that the LEA can implement 
fully and effectively one of the interventions.
    B. Providing flexibility.
    1. An SEA may award school improvement funds to an LEA for a Tier I 
or Tier II school that has implemented, in whole or in part, an 
intervention that meets the requirements under section I.A.2(a), 2(b), 
or 2(d) of these requirements within the last two years so that the LEA 
and school can continue or complete the intervention being implemented 
in that school.
    2. An SEA may seek a waiver from the Secretary of the requirements 
in section 1116(b) of the ESEA in order to permit a Tier I school 
implementing an intervention that meets the requirements under section 
I.A.2(a) or 2(b) of these requirements in an LEA that receives a School 
Improvement Grant to ``start over'' in the school improvement timeline. 
Even though a school implementing the waiver would no longer be in 
improvement, corrective action, or restructuring, it may receive school 
improvement funds.
    3. An SEA may seek a waiver from the Secretary to enable a Tier I 
school that is ineligible to operate a Title I schoolwide program and 
is operating a Title I targeted assistance program to operate a 
schoolwide program in order to implement an intervention that meets

[[Page 65653]]

the requirements under section I.A.2(a), 2(b), or 2(d) of these 
requirements.
    4. An SEA may seek a waiver from the Secretary to enable an LEA to 
use school improvement funds to serve a Tier II secondary school.
    5. An SEA may seek a waiver from the Secretary to extend the period 
of availability of school improvement funds beyond September 30, 2011 
so as to make those funds available to the SEA and its LEAs for up to 
three years.
    6. If an SEA does not seek a waiver under section I.B.2, 3, 4, or 
5, an LEA may seek a waiver.

II. Awarding School Improvement Grants to LEAs

A. LEA Requirements
    1. An LEA may apply for a School Improvement Grant if it has one or 
more schools that qualify under the State's definition of a Tier I or 
Tier III school. An eligible LEA may also apply to serve Tier II 
schools.
    2. In its application, in addition to other information that the 
SEA may require--
    (a) The LEA must--
    (i) Identify the Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III schools it commits 
to serve;
    (ii) Identify the intervention it will implement in each Tier I and 
Tier II school it commits to serve;
    (iii) Demonstrate that it has the capacity to use the school 
improvement funds to provide adequate resources and related support to 
each Tier I and Tier II school it commits to serve in order to 
implement fully and effectively one of the four interventions 
identified in section I.A.2 of these requirements;
    (iv) Provide evidence of its strong commitment to use school 
improvement funds to implement the four interventions by addressing the 
factors in section I.A.4(a) of these requirements;
    (v) Include a timeline delineating the steps the LEA will take to 
implement the selected intervention in each Tier I and Tier II school 
identified in the LEA's application; and
    (vi) Include a budget indicating how it will allocate school 
improvement funds among the Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III schools it 
commits to serve.
    (b) If an LEA has nine or more Tier I and Tier II schools, the LEA 
may not implement the transformation model in more than 50 percent of 
those schools.
    3. The LEA must serve each Tier I school using one of the four 
interventions identified in section I.A.2 of these requirements unless 
the LEA demonstrates that it lacks sufficient capacity (which may be 
due, in part, to serving Tier II schools) to undertake one of these 
rigorous interventions in each Tier I school, in which case the LEA 
must indicate the Tier I schools that it can effectively serve. An LEA 
may not serve with school improvement funds awarded under section 
1003(g) of the ESEA a Tier I school in which it does not implement one 
of the four interventions.
    4. The LEA's budget for each Tier I and Tier II school it commits 
to serve must be of sufficient size and scope to ensure that the LEA 
can implement one of the rigorous interventions identified in section 
I.A.2 of these requirements. The LEA's budget must cover the period of 
availability of the school improvement funds, taking into account any 
waivers extending the period of availability received by the SEA or 
LEA. The LEA's budget may, and likely would, exceed $500,000 per year 
for each Tier I and Tier II school that implements an intervention in 
section I.A.2(a), 2(b), or 2(d) in order to reform the school 
consistent with the LEA's application and these requirements. The LEA's 
budget may include less than $500,000 per year for a Tier I or Tier II 
school for which it proposes to implement the school closure 
intervention in section I.A.2(c) (which would typically be completed 
within one year) or if the LEA's budget shows that less funding is 
needed to implement its selected intervention fully and effectively.
    5. The LEA's budget for each Tier III school it commits to serve 
must include the services it will provide the school, particularly if 
the school meets additional criteria established by the SEA, although 
those services do not need to be commensurate with the funds the SEA 
provides the LEA based on the school's inclusion in the LEA's School 
Improvement Grant application.
    6. An LEA in which one or more Tier I schools are located and that 
does not apply to serve at least one of these schools may not apply for 
a grant to serve only Tier III schools.
    7. (a) To monitor each Tier I and Tier II school that receives 
school improvement funds, an LEA must--
    (i) Establish annual goals for student achievement on the State's 
assessments in both reading/language arts and mathematics; and
    (ii) Measure progress on the leading indicators in section III of 
these requirements.
    (b) The LEA must also meet the requirements with respect to 
adequate yearly progress in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA.
    8. If an LEA implements a restart model, it must hold the charter 
school operator, CMO, or EMO accountable for meeting the final 
requirements.
B. SEA Requirements
    1. To receive a School Improvement Grant, an SEA must submit an 
application to the Department at such time, and containing such 
information, as the Secretary shall reasonably require.
    2. (a) An SEA must review and approve, consistent with these 
requirements, an application for a School Improvement Grant that it 
receives from an LEA.
    (b) Before approving an LEA's application, the SEA must ensure that 
the application meets these requirements, particularly with respect 
to--
    (i) Whether the LEA has agreed to implement one of the four 
interventions identified in section I.A.2 of these requirements in each 
Tier I and Tier II school included in its application;
    (ii) The extent to which the LEA's application shows the LEA's 
strong commitment to use school improvement funds to implement the four 
interventions by addressing the factors in section I.A.4(a) of these 
requirements;
    (iii) Whether the LEA has the capacity to implement the selected 
intervention fully and effectively in each Tier I and Tier II school 
identified in its application; and
    (iv) Whether the LEA has submitted a budget that includes 
sufficient funds to implement the selected intervention fully and 
effectively in each Tier I and Tier II school it identifies in its 
application and whether the budget covers the period of availability of 
the funds, taking into account any waiver extending the period of 
availability received by either the SEA or the LEA.
    (c) An SEA may, consistent with State law, take over an LEA or 
specific Tier I or Tier II schools in order to implement the 
interventions in these requirements.
    (d) An SEA may not require an LEA to implement a particular model 
in one or more schools unless the SEA has taken over the LEA or school.
    (e) To the extent that a Tier I or Tier II school implementing a 
restart model becomes a charter school LEA, an SEA must hold the 
charter school LEA accountable, or ensure that the charter school 
authorizer holds it accountable, for complying with the final 
requirements.
    3. An SEA must post on its Web site, within 30 days of awarding 
School Improvement Grants to LEAs, all final LEA applications as well 
as a summary of those grants that includes the following information:
    (a) Name and National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

[[Page 65654]]

identification number of each LEA awarded a grant.
    (b) Amount of each LEA's grant.
    (c) Name and NCES identification number of each school to be 
served.
    (d) Type of intervention to be implemented in each Tier I and Tier 
II school.
    4. If an SEA does not have sufficient school improvement funds to 
award, for up to three years, a grant to each LEA that submits an 
approvable application, the SEA must first give priority to LEAs that 
apply to serve both Tier I and Tier II schools and then give priority 
to LEAs that apply to serve Tier I schools.
    5. An SEA must award a School Improvement Grant to an LEA in an 
amount that is of sufficient size and scope to support the activities 
required under section 1116 of the ESEA and these requirements. The 
LEA's total grant may not be less than $50,000 or more than $500,000 
per year for each Tier I and Tier III school that the LEA commits to 
serve.
    6. (a) In awarding school improvement funds to an LEA, an SEA must 
allocate $500,000 per year for each Tier I school that will implement a 
rigorous intervention under section I.A.2(a), 2(b), or 2(d) for which 
the LEA has requested funds in its budget and for which the SEA 
determines the LEA has the capacity to serve, unless the SEA determines 
on a case-by-case basis, considering such factors as school size, the 
intervention selected, and other relevant circumstances, that less 
funding is needed to implement the intervention fully and effectively.
    (b) The SEA must allocate sufficient school improvement funds in 
total to the LEA, consistent with section 1003(g)(5) of the ESEA, to 
meet, as closely as possible, the LEA's budget for implementing one of 
the four interventions in each Tier I and Tier II school it commits to 
serve, including the costs associated with closing such schools under 
section I.A.2(c), as well as the costs for serving participating Tier 
III schools, particularly those meeting additional criteria established 
by the SEA.
    7. If an SEA does not have sufficient school improvement funds to 
allocate to each LEA with a Tier I or Tier II school an amount 
sufficient to enable the school to implement fully and effectively the 
specified intervention throughout the period of availability, including 
any extension afforded through a waiver, the SEA may take into account 
the distribution of Tier I and Tier II schools among such LEAs in the 
State to ensure that Tier I and Tier II schools throughout the State 
can be served.
    8. If an SEA has provided a School Improvement Grant to each LEA 
that has requested funds to serve a Tier I or Tier II school in 
accordance with these requirements, the SEA may award remaining school 
improvement funds to an LEA that seeks to serve only Tier III schools 
that applies to receive those funds.
    9. In awarding School Improvement Grants, an SEA must apportion its 
school improvement funds in order to make grants to LEAs, as 
applicable, that are renewable for the length of the period of 
availability of the funds, taking into account any waivers that may 
have been requested and received by the SEA or an individual LEA to 
extend the period of availability.
    10. (a) If not every Tier I school in a State is served with FY 
2009 school improvement funds, an SEA must carry over 25 percent of its 
FY 2009 funds, combine those funds with FY 2010 school improvement 
funds (depending on the availability of appropriations), and award 
those funds to eligible LEAs consistent with these requirements. This 
requirement does not apply in a State that does not have sufficient 
school improvement funds to serve all the Tier I schools in the State.
    (b) If each Tier I school in a State is served with FY 2009 school 
improvement funds, an SEA may reserve up to 25 percent of its FY 2009 
allocation and award those funds in combination with its FY 2010 funds 
(depending on the availability of appropriations) consistent with these 
requirements.
    11. In identifying Tier I and Tier II schools in a State for 
purposes of allocating funds appropriated for School Improvement Grants 
under section 1003(g) of the ESEA for any year subsequent to FY 2009, 
an SEA must exclude from consideration any school that was previously 
identified as a Tier I or Tier II school and in which an LEA is 
implementing one of the four interventions identified in these 
requirements using funds made available under section 1003(g) of the 
ESEA.
    12. An SEA that is participating in the ``differentiated 
accountability pilot'' must ensure that its LEAs use school improvement 
funds available under section 1003(g) of the ESEA in a Tier I or Tier 
II school consistent with these requirements.
    13. Before submitting its application for a School Improvement 
Grant to the Department, the SEA must consult with its Committee of 
Practitioners established under section 1903(b) of the ESEA regarding 
the rules and policies contained therein and may consult with other 
stakeholders that have an interest in its application.
C. Renewal for Additional One-Year Periods
    (a) If an SEA or an individual LEA requests and receives a waiver 
of the period of availability of school improvement funds, an SEA--
    (i) Must renew the School Improvement Grant for each affected LEA 
for additional one-year periods commensurate with the period of 
availability if the LEA demonstrates that its Tier I and Tier II 
schools are meeting the requirements in section II.A.7 and that its 
Tier III schools are meeting the goals in their plans developed under 
section 1116 of the ESEA; and
    (ii) May renew an LEA's School Improvement Grant if the SEA 
determines that the LEA is making progress toward meeting the 
requirements in section II.A.7.
    (b) If an SEA does not renew an LEA's School Improvement Grant 
because the LEA's participating schools are not meeting the 
requirements in section II.A.7, the SEA may reallocate those funds to 
other eligible LEAs, consistent with these requirements.
D. State Reservation for Administration, Evaluation, and Technical 
Assistance
    An SEA may reserve from the school improvement funds it receives 
under section 1003(g) of the ESEA in any given year no more than five 
percent for administration, evaluation, and technical assistance 
expenses. An SEA must describe in its application for a School 
Improvement Grant how the SEA will use these funds.
E. A State Whose School Improvement Grant Exceeds the Amount the State 
May Award to Eligible LEAs
    In some States in which a limited number of Title I schools are 
identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring, the 
SEA may be able to make School Improvement Grants, renewable for 
additional years commensurate with the period of availability of the 
funds, to each LEA with a Tier I, Tier II, or Tier III school without 
using the State's full allocation under section 1003(g) of the ESEA. An 
SEA in this situation may reserve no more than five percent of its FY 
2009 allocation of school improvement funds for administration, 
evaluation, and technical assistance expenses under section 1003(g)(8) 
of the ESEA. The SEA may retain sufficient school improvement funds to 
serve, for succeeding years, each Tier I, II, and III school that 

generates funds for an eligible LEA. The Secretary may

[[Page 65655]]

reallocate to other States any remaining school improvement funds from 
States with surplus funds.

III. Reporting and Evaluation

A. Reporting Metrics
    To inform and evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions 
identified in these requirements, the Secretary will collect data on 
the metrics in the following chart. The Department already collects 
most of these data through EDFacts and will collect data on two metrics 
through SFSF reporting. Accordingly, an SEA must only report the 
following new data with respect to school improvement funds:
    1. A list of the LEAs, including their NCES identification numbers, 
that received a School Improvement Grant under section 1003(g) of the 
ESEA and the amount of the grant.
    2. For each LEA that received a School Improvement Grant, a list of 
the schools that were served, their NCES identification numbers, and 
the amount of funds or value of services each school received.
    3. For any Tier I or Tier II school, school-level data on the 
metrics designated on the following chart as ``SIG'' (School 
Improvement Grant):
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P

[[Page 65656]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR10DE09.000


[[Page 65657]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR10DE09.001

BILLING CODE 4000-01-C
    4. An SEA must report these metrics for the school year prior to 
implementing the intervention, if the data are available, to serve as a 
baseline, and for each year thereafter for which the SEA allocates 
school improvement funds under section 1003(g) of the ESEA. With 
respect to a school that is closed, the SEA need report only the 
identity of the school and the intervention taken--i.e., school 
closure.
B. Evaluation
    An LEA that receives a School Improvement Grant must participate in 
any evaluation of that grant conducted by the Secretary.
Executive Order 12866
    Under Executive Order 12866, the Secretary must determine whether 
this regulatory action is ``significant'' and therefore subject to the 
requirements of the Executive order and to review by OMB. Section 3(f) 
of Executive Order 12866 defines a ``significant regulatory action'' as 
an action likely to result in a rule that may (1) have an annual effect 
on the economy of $100 million or more, or adversely affect a sector of 
the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public 
health or safety, or State, local or tribal governments, or communities 
in a material way (also referred to as an ``economically significant'' 
rule); (2) create serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an 
action taken or planned by another agency; (3) materially alter the 
budgetary impacts of entitlement grants, user fees, or loan programs or 
the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) raise novel 
legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's 
priorities, or the principles set forth in the Executive order. The 
Secretary has determined that this regulatory action is significant 
under section 3(f)(1) of the Executive order.

Potential Costs and Benefits

    The potential costs have been reviewed in accordance with Executive 
Order 12866. Under the terms of the order, the Department has assessed 
the potential costs and benefits of this regulatory action.
    In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative 
and qualitative--of these final requirements, the Department has 
determined that the benefits of the requirements exceed the costs. The 
Department also has determined that this regulatory action does not 
unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the 
exercise of their governmental functions.

Summary of Potential Costs and Benefits

    The Department believes that the requirements will not impose 
significant costs on States, LEAs, or other entities that receive 
school improvement funds. As noted elsewhere, these requirements will 
drive school improvement funds to LEAs that have persistently lowest-
achieving schools in amounts sufficient to turn those schools around 
and significantly increase student achievement. They will also require 
participating LEAs to adopt the most effective approaches to turning 
around persistently lowest-achieving schools. In short, the Department 
believes that the requirements will ensure that limited school 
improvement funds are put to their optimum use--that is, that they will 
be targeted to where they are most needed and used in the most 
effective manner possible. The benefits, then, will be more effective 
schools serving children from low-income families and a better 
education for those children.

General Discussion of Comments

    Two commenters claimed that implementing School Improvement Grants 
will be more costly to States than suggested by the NPR, primarily 
because the NPR cost/benefit analysis focused on the preparation of SEA 
applications rather than on implementation costs such as those for 
technical assistance and the monitoring of LEAs. One commenter cited 
these and other costs in recommending that the Department use its 
authority under section 1552 of the ARRA to raise the administrative 
cap on school improvement funds as well as the administrative cap on 
section 1003(a) school improvement funds (i.e., the four-percent 
reservation from Title I, Part A formula grant allocations). Another 
commenter focused on LEA implementation costs, particularly the need to 
hire additional staff. This commenter expressed concern that LEAs would 
be forced to turn to ``expensive consultants,'' recommending instead 
that the Department (1) cap expenditures of school improvement funds 
for technical assistance providers to encourage such providers to lower 
their rates, and (2) provide specific funding for LEAs to hire 
additional staff to implement the interventions.
    Although the Department understands there will be costs to SEAs and 
LEAs associated with implementing School Improvement Grants, we 
strongly believe that the benefits of these requirements to the public 
outweigh the implementation costs. The Department

[[Page 65658]]

believes that the State and local costs of implementing the 
requirements (including State costs of applying for grants, 
distributing the grants to LEAs, ensuring compliance with the 
requirements, and reporting to the Department, and LEA costs of 
applying for subgrants and implementing the interventions) will be 
financed through the grant funds. The Department does not believe that 
the requirements will impose a financial burden that SEAs and LEAs will 
have to meet from non-Federal sources.
    SEAs will have significantly more resources to carry out their 
administrative and technical assistance responsibilities as the State 
share of school improvement funds is calculated off a base of almost 
$3.5 billion, a 662 percent increase over the amount an SEA could 
retain for administration and technical assistance activities in FY 
2008. Moreover, as noted earlier in this notice, the Secretary is 
allocating to SEAs their share of school improvement funds at the same 
time this notice is being published so that SEAs may access those 
resources to support State-level preparation activities and technical 
assistance to LEAs (particularly LEAs with potential Tier I and Tier II 
schools) in order to move quickly with implementation once an SEA's 
application is approved. Further, as also mentioned earlier in this 
notice, the Secretary has used his authority under section 1552 of the 
ARRA to adjust the statutory caps on State administration under Title 
I, Part A of the ESEA to allow an SEA to reserve additional State 
administrative funds to help defray costs associated with data 
collections that are specifically related to ARRA funding for Title I 
programs, including school improvement data collection and reporting 
requirements.
    With regard to LEA costs, we intend to issue FAQs to accompany the 
SEA application package that will address the authority of an LEA to 
hire additional staff, such as a turnaround specialist, to implement, 
for example, the turnaround model in a Tier I or Tier II school.

Need for Federal Regulatory Action

    These final requirements are needed to implement the School 
Improvement Grants program in FY 2009 in a manner that the Department 
believes will best enable the program to achieve its objective of 
supporting comprehensive and effective efforts by LEAs to overcome the 
challenges faced by the State's persistently lowest-achieving schools 
that educate concentrations of children living in poverty. The final 
requirements for an SEA to target school improvement funds on schools 
that are among the persistently lowest-achieving in the State will 
ensure that limited Federal funds go to the schools in which they are 
most needed, including high schools with high dropout rates. The 
requirement for LEAs receiving school improvement funds to implement 
one of four specific interventions in certain schools will ensure that 
those funds are not used for activities that are unlikely to produce 
the improvement in outcomes that persistently lowest-achieving schools 
need to achieve.
    The reporting requirements included in this notice will ensure that 
the Department receives limited but essential data on the results of 
this major Federal investment in school improvement. The Department 
does not believe that the State and local costs of providing those data 
will be significant and, as noted earlier, those costs can be met with 
grant funds.
    The definitions will give clearer meaning to some of the terms used 
elsewhere in the notice.

Regulatory Alternatives Considered

    A likely alternative to promulgation of these final requirements 
would have been for the Secretary to allocate the FY 2009 school 
improvement funds without setting any regulatory requirements governing 
their use. Under such an alternative, States and LEAs would have been 
required to meet the statutory requirements, but funds likely would not 
have been targeted to the persistently lowest-achieving schools and 
LEAs would likely not have used all the funds for activities most 
likely to result in a meaningful reform of those schools and 
significant improvement in the educational outcomes for the students 
they educate.

Accounting Statement

    As required by OMB Circular A-4 (available at 
http://www.Whitehouse.gov/omb/Circulars/a004/a-4.pdf), in the following table, 
we have prepared an accounting statement showing the classification of 
the expenditures associated with the provisions of these final 
requirements. This table provides our best estimate of the Federal 
payments to be made to States under this program as a result of these 
final requirements. Expenditures are classified as transfers to States.

  Table--Accounting Statement Classification of Estimated Expenditures
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Category                             Transfers
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Annual Monetized Transfers................  $3,545,633,000.
From Whom to Whom.........................  Federal Government to
                                             States.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As previously noted, the ARRA provides $3 billion for School 
Improvement Grants in FY 2009 in addition to the previously 
appropriated $546 million. The final requirements in this notice govern 
the total $3.546 billion in FY 2009 school improvement funds.
    The requirements will have a distributional impact on the 
allocation of school improvement funds nationally. The implementation 
of these requirements will likely result in a larger proportion of 
program funds flowing to LEAs that have larger concentrations of 
persistently lowest-achieving schools (Tier I and Tier II schools) and 
a smaller portion flowing to other LEAs. However, because the FY 2009 
appropriation for the program is much larger than the appropriation for 
FY 2008, the negative impact on the latter category of LEAs may be 
minimal. The Department is unable to project the amount of the shift 
but will collect data on the allocations through the procedures 
described under Reporting and Evaluation.
Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification
    The Secretary certifies that these final requirements will not have 
a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. Under the U.S. Small Business Administration's Size 
Standards, small entities include small governmental jurisdictions such 
as cities, towns, or LEAs with a population of less than 50,000. 
Approximately 11,900 LEAs that receive Title I funds qualify as small 
entities under this definition. However, the small entities that these 
final requirements will affect are small LEAs receiving school 
improvement funds under section 1003(g) of the ESEA--i.e., a small LEA 
that has one or more schools in improvement, corrective action, or 
restructuring and that meets the SEA's priorities for greatest need for 
those funds and demonstrates the strongest commitment to use the funds 
to provide adequate resources to persistently lowest-achieving schools 
to raise substantially the achievement of their students.
    Preliminary data analyses by the Department suggest that 15 to 25

[[Page 65659]]

percent of the persistently lowest-achieving schools in the Nation are 
located in rural areas, which are likely to contain most of the 
targeted schools that are operated by small LEAs. Assuming a maximum of 
1,000 such schools nationwide, and that few if any rural LEAs will 
contain more than one of their State's persistently lowest-achieving 
schools, there would be a range of 150 to 250 small LEAs affected by 
the final requirements in this notice, including a limited number of 
small suburban and urban LEAs.
    The final requirements in this notice would not have a significant 
economic impact on these small LEAs because (1) the costs of 
implementing the required interventions would be covered by the grants 
received by successful applicants, and (2) in most cases, the costs of 
developing plans for the interventions and submitting applications 
would not be significantly higher than the costs that would be incurred 
in applying for School Improvement Grants under the statutory 
requirements.
    Successful LEAs will receive up to three years of funding under 
section 1003(g) of the ESEA to implement their selected interventions, 
consistent with the Secretary's intention that SEAs ensure that awards 
are of sufficient size and duration to turn around the Nation's 
persistently lowest-achieving schools.
    Small LEAs may incur costs to develop and submit plans for 
implementing interventions in persistently lowest-achieving schools 
but, in general, such costs would be similar to those incurred in 
applying for School Improvement Grant funding under existing statutory 
requirements. Moreover, since nearly all of the schools included in the 
applications submitted by small LEAs would be schools that already are 
in improvement status, these LEAs would be able to incorporate existing 
data analysis and planning into their applications, at little 
additional cost. Also, small LEAs may receive technical assistance and 
other support from their SEAs in developing turnaround plans and 
applications for these funds.
    In addition, the Department believes the benefits provided under 
this regulatory action will outweigh the burdens on these small LEAs of 
complying with the final requirements. In particular, the requirements 
potentially make available to eligible small LEAs significant resources 
to make the fundamental changes needed to turn around a persistently 
lowest-achieving school, resources that otherwise may not be available 
to small and often geographically isolated LEAs.
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995
    This notice contains information collection requirements that are 
subject to review by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 
U.S.C. 3501-3520). The Department has received emergency approval for 
the information collections described below under OMB Control Number 
1810-0682.
    A description of the specific information collection requirements 
is provided in the following tables along with estimates of the annual 
recordkeeping burden for these requirements. The estimates include time 
for an SEA and an LEA to prepare their respective applications 
(including requests for waivers), an SEA to review an LEA's 
application, and an LEA to report data to an SEA and the SEA to report 
those data to the Department. The first table shows the estimated 
burden for SEAs and the second table shows the estimated burden for 
LEAs.

                                        State Educational Agency Estimate
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
          SIG activity            Number of SEAs  Hours/activity       Hours         Cost/hour         Cost
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Complete SEA application                      52             100           5,200             $30        $156,000
 (including requests for
 waivers).......................
Review and post LEA applications              52             800          41,600              30       1,248,000
Collect and report school-level               52              80           4,160              30         124,800
 data to the Department *.......
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................                                          50,960              30       1,528,800
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* These are data the Department does not currently collect through EDFacts.


                                        Local Educational Agency Estimate
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
          SIG activity            Number of LEAs  Hours/activity       Hours         Cost/hour         Cost
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Complete LEA application                   2,550              60         153,000             $25      $3,825,000
 (including requests for waivers
 if the SEA does not so request)
Report data to SEA *............           1,000              40          40,000              25       1,000,000
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................                                         193,000              25       4,825,000
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* These are data the Department does not currently collect through EDFacts.

    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities may obtain this 
document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, 
audiotape, or computer diskette) on request to the program contact 
person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Electronic Access to This Document: You may view this document, as 
well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal 
Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) on the 
Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/news/fedregister. To 
use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at 
this site.

    Note: The official version of this document is the document 
published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the 
official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal 
Regulations is available on GPO Access at: 
http://www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/index.html.


    Dated: December 2, 2009.
Arne Duncan,
Secretary of Education.
[FR Doc. E9-29183 Filed 12-9-09; 8:45 am]

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