ED Seeks Applications for New Turnaround School Leaders Program

In order to ensure that more principals and assistant principals have the skills to lead turnaround efforts in their schools, the US Department of Education is seeking applications for a new program to implement or enhance the “leadership pipeline” in low-performing schools. With $14 million in funds appropriated under the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program in FY 2013, the new Turnaround School Leaders Program would provide grants to help select, prepare, support, and retain leaders in SIG-receiving or SIG-eligible schools.

According to the announcement, performance monitoring of the SIG program and interviews with external partners indicate that many school districts “do not have the capacity or resources to recruit or develop school leaders able to undertake successful turnaround efforts.” The announcement also notes that state-approved principal certification and licensure programs “are not preparing school leaders with the specialized skills needed to turn around schools identified as low-performing,” and school districts “struggle to identify the right competencies in leader candidates for turnaround schools.”

Under this announcement, ED expects to award 8-12 awards ranging from $1 to $2 million apiece. Eligible applicants include school districts or consortia of school districts serving more than five SIG-eligible schools. These school districts or consortia could also partner with state educational agencies, institutions of higher education, or nonprofit associations.

Applicants must propose a plan to develop and implement a leadership pipeline for at least one school district that serves five or more SIG-eligible schools. Competitive preference would be awarded to those school districts that have: 1) policies in place to provide school leaders with decisionmaking autonomy with regard to staffing, school schedules, and budgeting; or 2) a record of preparing and supporting turnaround school leaders who have demonstrated success in increased graduation rates and academic growth.

Under the programs, grantees would be required to assist school districts to:

  • Recruit and select promising current and prospective school leaders with the competencies necessary to turn around a SIG school or SIG-eligible school;
  • Provide high-quality training to selected school leaders to prepare them to successfully lead turnaround efforts in SIG schools and/or SIG-eligible schools;
  • Place school leaders in SIG schools and/or SIG-eligible schools and provide them with ongoing professional development and other support that focuses on instructional leadership and school management and is based on individual needs consistent with the school district’s plan for turning around its SIG schools and/or SIG-eligible schools; and
  • Retain effective school leaders, using financial or other incentives, and replace ineffective school leaders.

Applicants must provide a notice of intent to apply by April 25, and final applications are due on May 23. For more information about the Turnaround School Leaders Program, go to: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/turnaroundschlldr/index.html.

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