West Virginia First State to Receive Federal Turnaround Funds

March 11, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia is the first state in the nation to receive millions of dollars through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program to help schools in critical need. These funds are part of the $3.5 billion that will be made available to states this spring from money set aside in the 2009 budget and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.


“This is a major financial shot in the arm,” said state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “Now that we have the resources, it is time for our lowest performing schools to roll up their sleeves and implement research-based strategies to improve student achievement.”

The $21.9 million made available to West Virginia is being distributed to the schools that have been performing at the bottom 5 percent related to student achievement and have not shown signs of growth.

In order for a school district to apply for these funds, it must be a state identified “persistently lowest achieving” or a Tier III school. A Tier III school has failed to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) for two years but has never been identified as a persistently lowest achieving school. Tier III schools can only receive funds once all of the state's persistently lowest achieving schools have received funds.

“When a school continues to perform in the bottom 5 percent of the state and isn’t showing signs of growth or has graduation rates below 60 percent, something dramatic needs to be done,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Turning around our worst performing schools is difficult for everyone but it is critical that we show the courage to do the right thing by kids.”

West Virginia expects to use the $21.9 million grant over a three-year period. Eligible schools must submit a competitive grant application by May 2010 and will receive approval by July 2010. School grant amounts will range from $500,000 to $2 million.

All West Virginia school districts that apply must be willing to implement the Transformation Model which calls for the replacement of the principal at the low performing school.  In addition, plans must be in place to improve the low performing school through comprehensive curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time and other strategies.


If a principal in a persistently low performing school has been replaced within two years, he or she is exempt from the principal replacement provision. Tier III schools also are exempt.

Once a school receives SIG funds, it will be able to begin spending the money immediately on efforts to turn around the school this fall.

For more information, contact the WVDE Communications Office at 304-558-2699.

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