Education Week - June 10, 2015 - (Page 17)
Federal Aid Fuels Multi-Tiered Instruction
By Alyson Klein
High Point, N.C.
Parkview Village Elementary Expressive Arts
Magnet School was about a year into a homegrown
turnaround effort when it got a nearly $1.2 million
federal School Improvement Grant, aimed at improving low-performing schools.
The school's new principal, Wayne Mayo, had a record of bolstering achievement at high-poverty, highminority schools elsewhere in the state. The grant
gave him tools to more fully carry out his vision at
Parkview-part of North Carolina's Guilford County
district-beginning in the 2013-14 school year.
Just a small handful of the school's roughly two
dozen teachers elected to stay on for the federally
funded turnaround, and Mr. Mayo was able to offer
new recruits signing bonuses of up to $2,500.
Mr. Mayo also amped up the school's focus on using
data to improve student achievement. And the school
embraced extended learning time; it added 10 days
to the school year, plus an extra week of teacher professional development.
It also extended the school day by 45 minutes-and
students get started learning with a drop-everythingand-read period while they eat their free breakfast.
"If people can sit in restaurants and read a mag-
azine, children can read and eat in the morning,"
Mr. Mayo joked.
But the schedule is demanding, Mr. Mayo acknowledged, and he thinks it contributed to the school's
teacher-absenteeism rate, which he pegged at about
"We have teachers that get burned out, coming in
early and staying late," Mr. Mayo said.
The school lost seven teachers after the first year
of the sig grant, in part because staff members were
no longer eligible for retention bonuses for serving in
hard-to-staff schools, after changes were made to the
district's teacher-incentive program.
But the school is participating in another federal
grant aside from sig: Race to the Top aid for districts.
In Guilford County, the program includes an initiative aimed at educating African-American boys.
At Parkview, the initiative has helped shape an
alternative approach to discipline called "the Prickly
Paw program," named in honor of the school's mascot, a panther. Instead of suspension, a student
might spend time cleaning up the school grounds,
Meanwhile, the school's academic growth rate beat
the state average in the 2013-14 school year.
"The culture of the school has changed," Mr. Mayo
gies came with a sweetener: three
years of robust federal funding. Ms.
Gorham was able to bring in consultants to help her teachers with
classroom management and student behavior, and give the school
a hand in implementing singlegender classes.
But, when Ms. Gorham got to
Allen, she had a much smaller of pot
of money, about $450,000 in extra
funds under a special local program.
That meant she had to make some
difficult choices, including scaling
back the school's social worker from
full- to part-time, to pay for additional instructional coaches.
Allen Middle School did, however,
take advantage of another major
federal funding stream. Like Iredell-Statesville, Guilford got a $30
million grant under Race to the
Top for districts, which was used to
buy 1-to-1 tablets and better customize instruction to individual
students. Now, the program is at
every middle school in the district.
The initiative hasn't been without
its problems. After a fast, aggressive
rollout, Guilford temporarily halted
the program, amid hardware challenges. The early days were particularly tough on turnaround schools
like Allen Middle.
"We were trying to reculture the
school, and it was too much," Ms.
Gorham said. "It created more time
away from instruction, ... and we
needed to be able to focus on the essential instruction that we needed."
She was grateful that the district
hit the pause button and restarted
the 1-to-1 initiative, with the help
of its vendor, Amplify. It's operated much more smoothly this time
around, she said. (Larry Berger, the
president of Amplify Learning, is a
trustee of Education Week's parent
And overall, Ms. Gorham sees
the tablets as a net positive and a
huge motivating tool for her students. But learning to teach with
2014-15 SCHOOL YEAR
LATE SPRING 2015
GRANTS AND FUNDS
RACE T0 THE TOP DISTRICTS
Awarded: December 2012 Ends: December 2016
5 million supplemental
- Initiative to improve
outcomes for AfricanAmerican boys
- V irtual middle school
RACE T0 THE TOP (PORTION OF STATE'S GRANT)
Awarded: August 2010 Ends: June 2015
artially used to
T echnically ended in
June 2014, but North
Carolina and most other
states received a oneyear, no-cost extension
SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT GRANT
North Carolina's average.
Now, Ms. Gorham, who was
named Guilford County's principal
of the year in 2014-15, is trying
to replicate that success at Allen
Middle, using some of the same
strategies, but without the federal
Guilford has used sig funding,
which requires districts to choose
from a menu of intensive turnaround strategies, at four schools.
The district borrowed some of those
ideas for its own locally financed
turnaround efforts at a few schools,
including Allen Middle, now in its
second year of the district's improvement program.
Like one of the federal options,
Guilford's homegrown approach calls
for getting rid of a school's principal,
if that person has been on the job for
more than a year without progress;
extending instructional time; and replacing at least half the staff.
At Wiley Elementary, those dramatic, politically prickly strate-
SIG Money Gives Principal Tools for Turnaround
The Iredell-Statesville school district had dabbled in the multi-tiered instructional strategy
known as "response to intervention" before it received a federal Investing in Innovation grant to
go all in on rti.
But its scattershot past approach had left some
educators skeptical of the strategy. District leaders
needed to show that the i3 grant would mean a much
deeper and more systematic implementation.
So they dressed up as characters from "Men in
Black," a comedy movie about aliens that features
mind-erasing federal agents.
"Forget everything you ever knew about rti," they
told staff members at the handful of schools tapped
to pilot the new strategies-a signal that the district was hitting the reset button on rti.
More than four years later, Iredell-Statesville is
in the last stages of implementing the grant. The i3
money helped nearly every school in the district pinpoint students' strengths and weaknesses, using a
GUILFORD COUNTY SCHOOLS
AT A GLANCE
By Alyson Klein
mix of assessments, including North Carolina's endof-grade-tests, classroom performance, and a diagnostic tool, financed by the grant.
Schools across the district have rejiggered their
schedules to give students time for "intervention"-
a chance to work on the skills that are tripping
them up the most-or enrichment.
In the classroom, students are often grouped according to the skill they need extra help on, especially at the elementary level.
On a Monday in early May, for instance, students
in Tracey Cauble's 4th grade class at Celeste Henkel Elementary School were all working on language arts. But one group of students was using
flashcards to improve fluency, while another was
looking up words that were likely to show up on
the state's grade-level common-core-aligned tests.
Other students were combing through a nonfiction
passage with Ms. Cauble.
In another group-of the highest fliers-students
were lying on their stomachs on the floor, their
heads buried in The Egypt Game-a book Ms. Cauble's own children didn't tackle until middle school.
INVESTING IN INNOVATION GRANT
Began in the
2010-11 school year
Most funding ends in
2014, but one grant
goes through 2016
warded in the
fall of 2010
rant ends in
the fall 2015
TEACHER QUALITY GRANTS
Began in the 2009-10 school year
Funding runs out in 2016
TEACHER INCENTIVE FUND
Included $8 million between 2006-07 and $23 million
from 2010-11 to 2014-15
F unding technically runs out this year, though the
district received a no-cost extension through 2016
SOURCES: U.S. Department of Education; Iredell-Statesville and
Guilford County school districts
PAGE 18 >
EDUCATION WEEK | June 10, 2015 | www.edweek.org | 17
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - June 10, 2015
Education Week - June 10, 2015
Cleveland Embraces Social- Emotional Learning
Challenge of Co-Teaching A Special Education Issue
As Federal Grants Taper Off, Two N.C. Districts Tally Impact
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: N.Y. ‘Open’ Content Going Nationwide
School Choice Supercharged In Nev. Statute
News in Brief
Debate Persists Around Kindergarten Reading Standards
New York Expanding Dual Language to Help Its English- Learners
Schools, Students Hit Hard by California’s Historic Drought
Blogs of the Week
Massachusetts School Transforms Renovation Into Teachable Moment
Magnet Schools Found to Boost Diversity—But Only a Bit
Survey: Students Need More Than Academic Prowess
Education Policy Issues In Arizona Crossfire
Congress Appears Poised to Tackle Higher Education Issues
SIG Money Gives Principal Tools For Turnaround
Federal Aid Fuels Multi-Tiered Instruction
Additional Entrants Join Presidential Race
High Court Rules in Online Threat, Religious Rights Cases
A Movement Gains Momentum
What Teachers Are Saying
Parents Have a Civil Right To Question Testing’s Goal
Parents See Testing’s ‘Distorting Impact’
What Are the Policy Implications of the Opt-Out Movement?
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
An Early Opt-Out
Education Week - June 10, 2015