The School Improvement Grants were announced Monday by the U.S. Department of Education.
Georgia schools competing for the grants have to identify problems, set goals and state how they would use the money to reach them. The funds would be used by Georgia schools to pay for teacher and principal training and to hire teacher coaches.
The program can be controversial since a school must agree to reforms that often include replacing the principal, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Education officials generally support programs that put more money into schools, but tying receipt of the funds to faculty and principal changes has struck some as the wrong approach.
“I’m not sure that the research and experience over the past decade or so support the effectiveness of these rather dramatic interventions,” said Tim Callahan, director of public relations for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators.
“While such changes may need to be made — and they are certainly drastic — my take on it is that any improvements may be short-term,” Callahan said. Such interventions fail to significantly recognize the serious impacts and long-lasting effects of poverty on teaching and learning of students.”
Schools in Georgia are eligible to apply for a grant if they have a graduation rate lower than 60 percent and have ranked in the lowest 5 percent of schools on state tests in English, language arts and math for the past three years.