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TEA Correspondence

A Microsoft Word version of this letter is available for download and PRINTING.

April 9, 2010

TO THE ADMINISTRATOR ADDRESSED:

SUBJECT: Texas Title I Priority Schools Grant Program funded from Federal Section 1003(g) School Improvement Grant (SIG) Funds

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is committed to assisting local education agencies (LEAs) in turning around Texas’s persistently lowest-achieving schools and improving the academic performance of all campuses eligible for Title I.  This letter is to notify LEAs who are eligible to apply on behalf of one or more eligible campuses for the Texas Title I Priority Schools (TTIPS) grant program, funded from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Section 1003(g) School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds, that the state’s application for funding was approved by the U. S. Department of Education on April 2, 2010. 

State Application Available for Review
The state’s application, which includes a draft of the competitive campus application and the scoring rubrics, has been posted on the USDE web site at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/summary/index.html.  While this draft copy of the application was required to be included in the state’s application to USDE, the complete version of the Request for Application (RFA) will be published on April 16, 2010.  Grant applications will be due to TEA on June 3, 2010.

Grant Eligibility and Awards
Campuses are eligible if identified as “persistently lowest achieving” or have met other eligibility criteria in the federal definition, within one of the three Tiers defined in the federal guidelines.  LEAs may apply on behalf of one or more eligible campuses for these discretionary (competitive) grant funds.  An LEA with more than one eligible campus must submit a separate grant application for each campus that the LEA chooses to apply for funding.  The minimum campus grant to be awarded is $50,000 and the maximum award is $2,000,000 per year for three years.  Technical assistance to grantees will be available, on behalf of TEA, from the School Improvement Resource Center (SIRC) at Region XIII Education Service Center.

The lists of eligible Tier I, Tier II and Tier III campuses and the definition and methodology for determining eligibility are posted on TEA’s NCLB website at
http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=7354&menu_id=798.

Grant Requirements
The purpose of the TTIPS grant is to provide funding to LEAs which have the capacity and commitment to implement rapid, dramatic reforms to turn around the state’s most struggling campuses.  Tier I and Tier II grantees must implement one of four federally-required models of reform by implementing a design developed by the LEA or the state’s TEA designed program supported with technical assistance provided by SIRC on behalf of TEA.

  • Turnaround Model:  Replace the principal, screen existing school staff, and rehire no more than half the teachers; adopt a new governance structure; and improve the school through curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies. 
  • Restart Model: Convert a school or close it and re-open it as a charter school or under an education management organization. 
  • School Closure: Close the school and send the students to higher-achieving schools in the district.
  • Transformation Model: Replace the principal and improve the school through comprehensive curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies. 

Tier III campuses may implement one of the four intervention models listed above or the Tier III Transformation program.  The Tier III Transformation model requires the evaluation of the effectiveness of the campus principal with the evaluation results determining whether the principal should be replaced or retained or needs to receive leadership coaching and professional development; rather than requiring the replacement of the principal. 

Grant Flexibility
TEA was approved by USDE to implement flexibility to allow a Tier I, Tier II, Tier III grantee campus that has implemented, in whole or in part, either the Turnaround, Restart, or Transformation models within the last two years to continue or complete the implementation of the intervention model with the TTIPS grant funds.  For example, if a grantee campus has replaced its principal within the last two years, the LEA/campus will not be required to hire another new principal.  An LEA/campus that receives TTIPS funds in accordance with this flexibility must fully implement the selected model as required by the final federal requirements and as stated in the RFA.

Training Opportunities
Grant Overview Sessions will be conducted around the state by TEA and SIRC staff members to explain the grant’s purpose, requirements within each of the four options, and how to apply.  A webinar version of the Grant Overview will also be available on the Discretionary Grant website beginning April 16, 2010, at http://burleson.tea.state.tx.us/GrantOpportunities/forms/GrantProgramSearch.aspx (also connected by links from the NCLB and SIRC websites).  Since the grant is competitive, the presentations at the webinar and the overview sessions will be identical.

Five Grant Overview sessions are scheduled.  Each presentation will be conducted from 8:30am – 4:30pm.  Each session will be video-taped and posted on TEA Grant Opportunities Grants’ website http://burleson.tea.state.tx.us/GrantOpportunities/forms/GrantProgramSearch.aspx (and connected by links from the NCLB and SIRC websites).  The Grant Overview sessions will be conducted at the following sites.
April 16, 2010   Fort Worth                                                             Workshop # SP1018751
American Airlines Training Center, 4501 Hwy 360 South, Ft Worth, TX 76155
April 19, 2010   Houston                                                                 Workshop # SP1018750
      Region 4 Education Service Center, 7145 West Tidwell, Houston, TX  77092
April 21, 2010   Edinburg                                                               Workshop # SP1018748
      Region 1 Education Service Center, 1900 W. Schunior, Edinburg, TX 78541
April 23, 2010   Midland/Odessa                                                     Workshop # SP1018988
Region 18 Education Service Center, 2811 LaForce Blvd, Midland, TX 79706
April 23, 2010   Austin                                                                    Workshop # SP1018644
Region 13 Education Service Center, 5701 Springdale Rd, Austin, TX  78723

If your staff plan to attend any of the Overview Sessions, please register at https://ecampus.esc13.net/login.html using the appropriate workshop number above.  There is no fee to register, but in order to ensure space and materials for all participants, registration is strongly recommended.  If you have questions regarding the dates or locations of the Overview Sessions, please contact Ms. Allison Ivey or Mr. Cody Huie at SIRC at (512) 919-5458.

All questions received at the overview sessions or submitted electronically to NCLBTTIPS@tea.state.tx.us no later than May 20, 2010, at 5pm CST, will have responses posted on the TEA Grant Opportunities website at http://burleson.tea.state.tx.us/GrantOpportunities/forms.  

Additional information related to the TTIPS grant program will be posted on the NCLB website as it becomes available at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=7354&menu_id=798.  Resources and other school improvement information are available at www.esc13.net/sirc.  The RFA, and links to all resources related to the TTIPS grant program will be posted on the TEA Grant Opportunities website at http://burleson.tea.state.tx.us/GrantOpportunities/forms.  In the “Select Search Options” box, select the name of the program/RFA from the dropdown list.  Scroll down to “Application and Support Information” to view all documents that pertain to this RFA.

Please note that due to the competitive nature of this grant program, staff are limited to directing callers to the answer contained in the materials posted on the website or researching the answer to a new question and posting the response in the FAQ document on the website above.  To ensure that no prospective applicant may obtain a competitive advantage because of acquisition of information unknown to other prospective applicants, any and all questions about the RFA must be submitted in writing to the TEA contact persons listed below.

If you have questions regarding this grant program, please contact either Ms. Dorothy White or Ms. Erica Coppic in the Division of NCLB Program Coordination at TEA via electronic mail at NCLBTTIPS@tea.state.tx.us or by telephone at (512) 463-9374. 

Sincerely,

Ann Smisko, Ph.D.
Associate Commissioner
School Improvement and Support

AS/cg

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