states lacked expertise to improve worst schools

Lyndsey Layton:

The Obama administration handed out more than $3 billion to the states and the District of Columbia to help them turn around their worst-performing schools as part of the federal stimulus spending that took place after the 2008 recession.

But most states lacked the capacity to improve those schools, according to a new analysis by federal researchers.

Although turning around the worst schools was a priority for nearly every state, most did not have the staff, technology and expertise to pull those schools out of the bottom rankings, according to a brief released Tuesday by the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Education Department.

With funds allocated by Congress under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Obama administration spent $3.5 million on School Improvement Grants to states, directing them to focus the money on their lowest-performing schools.

School Improvement Grants had been part of No Child Left Behind, the 2002 federal education law. But stimulus spending increased the budget for the grants sixfold.