Schools Lose Out on Innovation Grant - Voice of San Diego

Education UNVEILING THE UNSEEN

Schools Lose Out on Innovation Grant

The funding would have helped ramp up efforts to analyze which school programs work and which don’t.

San Diego Unified didn’t get a $5 million federal innovation grant that would have helped it revamp the way it analyzes data. The grant, which would have spanned from three to five years, would have helped the school district amp up its existing efforts to better track and review data to see what programs are working and how well, bringing financial, staffing and student achievement data together.

Data trouble has been a frequent complaint in San Diego Unified and other school districts: It can be hard to discern whether instructional programs really work because of a lack of useful data. Schools may be able to see that test scores increased, but they can’t clearly link that increase to something specific.

The federal innovation grants were highly competitive: Only 49 out of nearly 1,700 applicants were awarded the grants, according to Education Week.

“We are optimistic that we will find alternative funding for these programs and partnerships in the future,” wrote Alyson Evans, who coordinates grants for the school district, in an e-mail to me. Darryl LaGace, who oversees technology, said there could be another chance to apply for funding next year and that the school district will keep improving its use of data anyway.

“It’ll just take longer,” LaGace said.

— EMILY ALPERT

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