California has received a grant of nearly $53.6 million from the U. S. Department of Education, funding intended to help turn around the state’s persistently lowest-achieving schools.

The award was part of a $427 million federal investment in the nationwide School Improvement Grant (SIG) program announced Tuesday.

“We are seeing the impact of SIG and other initiatives through historic increases in high school graduation rates and narrowed achievement gaps in public schools, which ultimately translate to better opportunities for all students to succeed,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. in a prepared statement.

Since 2010, California has doled out the grants – ranging from $50,000 to $2 million per year for three years – to 140 schools in more than 40 districts. Districts apply to the California Department of Education on a competitive basis for the grants. Originally, the schools were required to spend the money to implement one of four reform models that included options such as replacing the principal and most of the staff, school closure, or intensive investments in student interventions and supports.

The new grants allow schools to select from three additional models. These are focused on early learning, “evidence-based whole school reform,” or the state’s approved intervention model, which emphasizes schoolwide reform, leadership, teaching and learning, nonacademic student support, family and community engagement, and support and oversight.

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