The Turnaround Grant is now in its second year, providing low-ranking Nevada schools with millions of dollars to help improve their performance. Reno Public Radio's Sarah Parks explores how the program works.
Desert Heights, Grace Warner, and Sun Valley Elementary Schools are just a few of the 39 institutions in Nevada awarded with the Turnaround Grant.
The two-year state grant, approved by Nevada lawmakers, provides a total of 5 million dollars intended to help improve 39 under-performing schools. They must have a ranking of one or two out of five stars, by the Nevada Star System. Those rankings are decided by levels of student proficiency and growth as well as high school graduation rates. Maria Sauter, with the Nevada Department of Education, says that they want to see schools move up in the rating system. "Nationwide research has shown that it is very difficult, not only to rise above those two stars, but to sustain it. That's where the real hard work begins," Sauter says The grant provides extra money to the school for professional and leadership development and one-on-one coaching with teachers. Sauter says that they are now working on how to help schools transition out of the program. "We're working on a support structure that tapers off support as those schools move up, because they can't just get dropped all together." So far, 3.3 million dollars has been awarded to these schools over the past year.