Obama plans to target low-performing schools

President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaNorth Korean media: Monday's missile launch 'successful' French president sets red line on Syria chemical weapons Perez: Honor the fallen by helping veterans MORE will announce Monday a national effort to reduce the high school dropout rate and better prepare students for successful college careers.

The administration has committed $3.5 billion to fund changes in persistently low-performing schools around the country, with priority given to high schools with graduation rates below 60 percent.

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Every day, 7,000 students drop out of school -- a total of 1.2 million students each year. In addition, only 70 percent of entering high school freshmen graduate every year, creating a loss of $319 billion in potential earnings.

To curb the crisis, Obama's program will support "interventions" for 5,000 of the lowest-performing schools over the next five years. Obama's 2011 budget includes an additional $900 million to support "School Turnaround Grants."

Schools receiving the funds will choose from four reform models:


  • Turnaround Model: The school district must replace the principal and at least half of the school staff, adopt a new governance structure for the school, and implement a new or revised instructional program.
  • Restart Model: The school district must close and reopen the school under the management of a charter school operator, a charter management organization or an educational management organization selected through a rigorous review process.
  • School Closure: The school district must close the failing school and enroll the students who attended that school in other, higher-achieving schools in the district.
  • Transformational Model: The school must address four areas of reform, including developing teacher effectiveness, implementing instructional reform strategies, extending teacher planning time and providing operating flexibility and support.

The administration will also support dropout prevention strategies through $50 million committed to the Graduation Promise Fund and through other reforms under the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which has passed the House. Those efforts include more personalized instruction, multiple pathways to graduation and better identification of at-risk students.

Obama's 2011 budget also includes $100 million for a new program to increase access to college-level, dual-credit and other accelerated courses in high-need high schools.