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K-12Lead of the Week (2)

Smaller Learning Communities: The School Improvement Providers' Entre to High School

From the November 19 issue of K-12Leads And Youth Service Markets Report.

Announcement: Smaller Learning Communities Program Due February 25 (Nov 26) U.S. Department of Education

Their Description: The Smaller Learning Communities (SLC) program awards discretionary grants to local educational agencies to support the implementation of SLCs and activities to improve student academic achievement in large public high schools with enrollments of 1,000 or more students. SLCs include structures such as freshman academies, multigrade academies organized around career interests or other themes, “houses’’ in which small groups of students remain together throughout high school, and autonomous schools within-a-school, as well as personalization strategies, such as student advisories, family advocate systems, and mentoring programs....

Absolute Priority.... [W]e consider only applications that meet this priority.... projects that create or expand SLCs that are part of a comprehensive effort to prepare all students to succeed in postsecondary education and careers without need for remediation.

In order to meet this priority an applicant must demonstrate that, using SLC grant funds or other resources, it will:

(1) Provide intensive interventions to assist students who enter high school with reading/language arts or mathematics skills that are significantly below grade level to ‘‘catch up’’ quickly and attain proficiency by the end of 10th grade;

(2) Enroll students in a coherent sequence of rigorous English language arts, mathematics, and science courses that will equip them with the skills and content knowledge needed to succeed in postsecondary education and careers without need for remediation;

(3) Provide tutoring and other academic supports to help students succeed in rigorous academic courses;

(4) Deliver comprehensive guidance and academic advising to students and their parents that includes assistance in selecting courses and planning a program of study that will provide the academic preparation needed to succeed in postsecondary education, early and ongoing college awareness and planning activities, and help in identifying and applying for financial aid for postsecondary education; and

(5) Increase opportunities for students to earn postsecondary credit through Advanced Placement courses, International Baccalaureate courses, or dual credit programs....

[W]e award an additional 4 points to an application... With Schools in Need of
Improvement, Corrective Action, or Restructuring.

Invitational Priority.... we do not give an application that meets this invitational priority a... preference.... Applications That Propose to Engage Faith-Based and Community Organizations in the Delivery of Services Under This Program....

Estimated Available Funds: $88,323,609. [T]he Department will provide funds for the first 36 months of the performance period. Funding to cover the remaining 24 months will be contingent on the availability of funds and each grantee’s substantial progress toward accomplishing the goals and objectives of the project as described in its approved application.

Our Thoughts: There will be around 80 awardees, funded for at least three years. There’s a particular interest in schools in improvement, corrective action and restructuring. Districts interested in pursuing the SLC approach will need school improvement providers as partners. ••••

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