The grants are distributed through state educational agencies, such as the West Virginia Department of Education, to local educational agencies (LEAs) for use in Title I schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. Schools that receive such funding must demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to use the funds to provide adequate resources to raise substantially the achievement of their students, including helping schools make adequate yearly progress and raise exit improvement status.
In accordance with the final requirements published in the Federal Register in December 2009, school improvement funds are to be focused on each state’s persistently lowest-achieving Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring (Tier I schools) and, at an LEA’s option, persistently lowest achieving secondary schools that are eligible for but do not receive Title I, Part A funds (Tier II schools). An LEA also may use school improvement funds in Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that are not identified as persistently lowest-achieving schools (Tier III schools). In the Tier I and Tier II schools that an LEA chooses to serve, the LEA must implement one of four school intervention models: turnaround model, restart model, school closure, or transformation model.
West Virginia’s waivers request would allow any local educational agency (LEA) in the state that receives a School Improvement Grant to use those funds in accordance with the final requirements for School Improvement Grants and the LEA’s application for a grant.
West Virginia Department of Education officials believe that the requested waivers will increase the quality of instruction for students and improve the academic achievement of students in Tier I, Tier II and Tier III schools. The waivers will enable LEAs to use more effectively the school improvement funds to implement one of the four school intervention models in its Tier I or Tier II schools and to carry out school improvement activities in its Tier III schools. The four school intervention models are specifically designed to raise substantially the achievement of students in West Virginia’s persistently lowest-achieving schools.
The requests include:
- Waive section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act (20 U.S.C. § 1225(b)) to extend the period of availability of school improvement funds for the SEA and all of its LEAs to September 30, 2013.
- Waive section 1116(b)(12) of the ESEA to permit LEAs to allow their Tier I schools that will implement a turnaround or restart model to begin again in the school improvement timeline.
- Waive sections 1003(g)(1) and (7) of the ESEA that limit the use of school improvement funds to Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring to permit LEAs to use school improvement funds to serve Tier II schools.