Priority 1: Improving Low Performing Schools
The state education leaders in the Southeast place high priority on improving persistently low-performing schools, especially the more than 2,000 that are eligible for a School Improvement Grant (SIG). In four of the six states, the majority of SIG schools are located in rural districts. The schools are further characterized by high poverty and high minority student populations. Less than 10% of the eligible schools in the Southeast receive SIG funding.
The southeastern state departments of education seek research-based strategies to assist them in their efforts to support the districts and schools that do not make adequate yearly progress. There is a demand for information about turnaround and transformation models and strategies for changing the culture of schools. Because the average high school graduation rate is below 70% in five of the six states, there is a sense of urgency to reform secondary education.