- A multi-year study by the American Institute for Research and the Institute of Education Sciences looked at schools receiving federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) and found that although the grants helped improve recipient schools, such improvement was fragile and possibly not sustainable.
- The case studies looked at 25 schools awarded SIG funding between 2010 and 2012, and only two schools appeared able to sustain improvement once the federal dollars were exhausted.
- In seven of the 12 schools, the study reported improvement was helped by "efforts to build human capital in a grant's first two years," which "increased the likelihood of boosting organizational capacity for improvement by the grant's end."
Money alone can't turn around failing schools; an examination of organizational capacity and leadership are key. An example of a collaborative and innovative approach to turning around schools is unfolding in the state of Massachusetts, where, since 2008, underperforming schools have received support from neighboring districts. Massachusetts leads the nation in educational outcomes, likely because the state considers a district only as good as its worst school. As states scramble to come up with their own rules and guidelines for accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act, more may look to Massachusetts for guidance.