Under the New Mexico Public Education Department’s (NMPED) approved Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility waiver, the state’s persistently lowest-achieving schools are identified as Priority and Focus Schools. As a result, Priority and Focus Schools, with the support of the larger district and school-community, have an opportunity to develop and implement a whole-school change model with the goal of achieving dramatic school-level achievement gains such that the school is in good academic standing within three years.
The primary purpose of the School Improvement Grant (SIG) is to provide Local Education Agencies (LEAs) with an opportunity to support the implementation of a whole-school change model in their Priority and Focus Schools.
This grant allows for four federally-designated models Turnaround, Restart, Transformation, and Closure and in addition, this grant introduces three additional models: Leadership Innovation, Evidence-based, and Early Learning Intervention.
The requirements and parameters set forth in this Request for Application (RFA) will serve as the quality standard for an approvable SIG plan. LEAs will be expected to fully implement the SIG plan in its funded Priority and Focus Schools through available resources including, but not limited to, the SIG.
The SIG plans in this RFA must be designed to meet one of the following intervention models:
- Turnaround: Replace the principal1 and at least half the staff as part of the process of phasing out and replacing the school with a new school(s), or completely redesigning the school2.
- Transformation: Replace the principal3, but without the requirement to replace at least half the staff. Rather, the implementation of the approved NMTEACH plan would serve as the basis for rewarding effective teachers and removing ineffective teachers after ample professional development opportunities4.
- Restart: The district converts or closes a school and reopens it under a charter school operator or a charter management organization (CMO), both of which are prohibited under New Mexico state law.
- Evidence-based whole school reform model (in addition to above requirements for all models):
For an LEA that applies to implement an evidence-based, whole-school reform model in one or more eligible schools, the LEA must describe how it will
- Implement a model with evidence of effectiveness that includes a sample population or setting similar to the population or setting of the school to be served; and
- Partner with a whole school reform model developer, as defined in the SIG requirements.
- LEAs may only implement evidence-based whole-school reform models that have been approved by the U.S. Department of Education. These models can be found here: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/sigevidencebased/index.html
- Leadership Innovation (Appendix A in Application): Replace or retain the principal5 and participation in Principals Pursuing Excellence Cohort 5.
- Early Learning Intervention: Replace the principal6 and offer full-day kindergarten, establish or expand a high-quality preschool program, and implement NMTeach that would serve as a rigorous evaluation and support system.
- Closure: Close the school and enroll the students who attended the school in higher achieving schools in the LEA. School closure and the transfer of students in this model occurs in one year or less.
The intervention models identified are consistent with the USDE requirements for SIG funding. In addition, the parameters of the SIG plan set forth in this application are directly aligned with the United States Secretary of Education’s seven (7) turnaround principles. Coupling these intervention model requirements with the Secretary’s turnaround principles, and the design elements of high quality schools, provides a framework for bold and dramatic school change. Specific requirements for each model are identified in subsequent sections of this RFA.
Federal Guidance and Rigorous Intervention Models
The USDE’s final SIG requirements can be found via the link below. All elements of the selected rigorous intervention model must be present in the full application for consideration by NMPED (a checklist for each model is included with this requirement in the application, below).
- Federal Register/Vol. 80, No. 26/February 9, 2015/Rules and Regulations/ pp. 7242 – 7244
- LEAs are encouraged to use the USDE SIG guidance to inform their applications: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/sigguidance032015.doc
- Additional USDE resources and guidance related to SIG are located here: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/index.html
This grant is open to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) with one or more eligible Priority or Focus Schools. An eligible Priority School or Focus School is one that the LEA has designated as implementing a whole-school change model beginning in 2016-2017 and that is not currently receiving SIG 1003[g] grant funding.
For each eligible school proposing to implement a model other than Closure, LEAs are eligible for up to $2.0 million, commensurate to school size and need, for the full grant term that includes three years of implementation and two years of post-implementation, collectively. For applications proposing to implement a Closure model plan, LEAs are eligible for up to $200,000, commensurate to school size and need, for the full grant term of one year.
LEAs may submit multiple applications in response to this RFA, however; only separate and complete applications for each eligible school will be accepted. Charter schools identified under the State accountability system are not eligible for award to implement a whole-school change model. New charter applicants/schools partnering with a district to replace an identified Priority or Focus School may receive SIG funding as new replacement schools under Turnaround model.
A full list of Priority and Focus Schools is available at: http://webapp2.ped.state.nm.us/SchoolData/docs/PFS_Dummy.pdf
NMPED is making multi-year awards (2016-2021), through a waiver of the period of availability of funds, to successful applicants.
Estimated funds available8: $8,326,878.21
Estimated number of awards: 1-5
For applications proposing to implement a model other than Closure, the full project period for this grant is four and a half years. Continuation funding after each period of the project is contingent upon progress toward meeting achievement goals, leading indicators, fidelity of implementation of required model actions, and maintenance of all grant requirements.
|Project Period Timeline|
|9LEA Informational Webinar||August 25, 2016|
|Applications Released by PED||September 1, 2016|
|Letter of Intent to Apply due to PED||September 9, 2016|
|Applications Due to PED||September 30, 2016|
|LEA Will and Capacity Interviews||November 7-11, 2016|
|Announcement of Awards||December, 2016|
|Planning Period for LEA/Schools||January 01, 2017 to June 30, 2017|
|Year-One Implementation Period||July 1 2017, to June 30, 2018|
|Year-Two Implementation Period||July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019|
|Year-Three Implementation Period||July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020|
|Post-implementation Period||July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021|
For applications proposing a Closure model, the full project period will be one year. There are no continuations past the year-one implementation period for the Closure model.
|Closure Model Project Period|
|Year-One Implementation Period||July 1 2017, to June 30, 2018|
Application Deadline and Submission Requirements
Letter of Intent
LEAs should submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) designating the specific identified schools for which applications will be submitted. Identifying the intervention model being proposed for each school is required for the LEA’s application to be considered.
The LOI should be submitted electronically through the Priority Schools email portal available at the following link: email@example.com. The LOI should be received by 3:00 p.m. on September 9, 2016.
LEAs are encouraged to participate in an Informational Webinar to learn about the School Improvement 1003[g] RFA on Thursday, August 25, 2016 at 10:00am. An email will be sent to all eligible superintendents and charter school directors on August 11, 2016 providing specific information including how to participate in the webinar.
LEA Will and Capacity Interviews
LEAs are required to attend a 2-hour Will and Capacity Interview with the SEA regarding their SIG application, if it receives a score of 75 or higher to be considered for the LEA Will and Capacity Interviews. After these interviews a final determination will be made regarding funding.
Full Application Submission
Complete applications must be submitted electronically through the Priority Schools Bureau portal available at the following link: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, one original application plus one hardcopy must be mailed by postal service to:
New Mexico Public Education Department
Attn: Elisabeth Peterson
Director, Student Achievement and School Turnaround
300 Don Gaspar Avenue
Santa Fe, New Mexico 85701
Complete hardcopy applications must be postmarked by September 30, 2016, and complete electronic copies must be submitted through the Priority Schools email portal no later than 3:00 p.m. on September 30, 2016.
1An LEA that is eligible for services under subpart 1 or 2 of part B of title VI of the ESEA is allowed to modify one element of the Transformation or Turnaround model so long as the modification meets the intent and purpose of the original element. For example, if a rural LEA applying to implement a turnaround model seeks to modify the element of the model that requires the LEA to replace the principal, the LEA must demonstrate in its application how it will ensure strong leadership in the school. The LEA could do this by demonstrating to the SEA that the current principal has a track record in improving student achievement and has the experience and skills needed to implement the intervention.
7Federal guidelines state that SIG funds may be used to fund Focus Schools only after the SEA has already funded all of its Priority Schools with approvable SIG applications.
8Awards will be made subject to the availability of funds and approval of the NMPED SEA SIG application by the USDE.
9The webinar has replaced the LEA Orientation Meeting that was scheduled to be held, September 2, 2015, to provide LEAs with information sooner. The webinar will be archived and accessible to LEAs any time.