Big surprise: Public schools that got federal improvement grants aren’t improving
03/15/2016 / By usafeaturesmedia / Comments
Big surprise: Public schools that got federal improvement grants aren’t improving

( There hasn’t been much to brag about when it comes to the performance of government-run public schools in the U.S., and the news doesn’t look like it’s going to get much better anytime in the near future. But that hasn’t stopped politicians from throwing more good taxpayer money after bad.

The latest example is Colorado, where some public schools that received federal improvement grants really haven’t improved at all.

As reported by, three schools in the Pueblo City Schools district are facing closure or conversion to charter schools if they don’t improve student achievement, and soon.

The schools are reaching the end of a five-year period given them by the state to move out of the accountability system which has four descending pillars: Performance, improvement, priority improvement and turnaround.

As reported further:

Two of the schools, Heroes Middle and Risley International Academy, remained in turnaround status this past year, while Roncalli STEM Academy dropped from priority improvement to turnaround. 

Roncalli, a middle school, recently converted into a school focused on science, technology and math, but math proficiency scores dropped from 35 percent in 2010 to 20 percent in 2014, while reading declined from 50 percent proficiency to 33 percent.

The problems with schools in Pueblo are similar to problems in other public schools around the state that have also received federal dollars to improve performances but have nevertheless stagnated, academically.

In Aurora, a suburb of Denver, there are more schools in trouble than in Pueblo, with 18 on the accountability time clock, second only to Denver proper. reported that the If Not Now coalition released a report last year revealing Aurora’s overall proficiency rates in math, reading and writing, which were about 20 percentage points below the state’s average. What’s more, nearly half of Aurora’s students do not graduate on schedule.

In all, 39 Colorado schools in academic turmoil received Student Improvement Grant funds of more than $50 million. A Denver Post examination recently found there was little correlation between these funds and academic gains.

Nationally, there are similar findings. A U.S. Department of Education report shows that while schools receiving those grants usually improve, they are still far below the national average.

Andy Smarick, a partner at Bellwether Education Partners, told the Post that “what’s mystifying to me is that people thought the School Improvement Grant program was going to get dramatically different results than the dozens of other similar efforts at school turnaround in the past.”

The only good news here is that soon, taxpayers could finally be off the hook for funding yet another failed government education program. The Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind — doesn’t including the grant money for failing schools.

See also: is part of the USA Features Media network of sites.

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