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A Historical Overview of School Improvement Grants

Michael Kohlhagen: A Historical Overview of School Improvement Grants

Experienced school administrator Michael Kohlhagen of the New York metropolitan area has served as superintendent or assistant superintendent of several school districts during his career. He most recently worked as superintendent of the Wethersfield Public Schools district in Connecticut. Currently, Mr. Kohlhagen focuses on completing his doctor of education degree from Columbia University in the City of New York and helps secure federal School Improvement Grants (SIGs) for school systems.

Awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to state education agencies, SIGs provide critical funding to some of the nation’s lowest performing elementary and secondary schools. Initially established through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, SIGs were reauthorized under the provisions of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act. The most recent round of SIGs, made available in February 2010, come from approximately $3.5 billion in Title I funding set aside through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Under the present system, school districts and local educational agencies identify the schools they want to transform most with SIGs to their state education agencies. Local districts and agencies must determine which of the four models (turnaround, restart, transformation, and school closure) they believe will best benefit the school or schools seeking the funding.

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Michael Kohlhagen: Turning Around Struggling Schools – Part I




Michael Kohlhagen, who has worked as both a superintendent and an assistant superintendent, has dedicated his career to students’ success. In addition to working with teachers and staff members, Mr. Kohlhagen possesses considerable experience with securing educational grants, especially those from the U.S. Department of Education.

Working in conjunction with agencies at the state and local levels, the U.S. Department of Education has reserved $4 billion for its Title I School Improvement Grant initiative, which aims to drastically transform the lowest-performing institutions in the country. As President Barack Obama noted, “12% of America’s schools produce 50% of America’s dropouts.” The program challenges districts to reduce that dropout rate and thereby ensure our continued prosperity in academic and professional settings.

To reach this goal, the government offers administrators four options for intervention, including the transformation model, which requires schools to hire a new principal, make significant changes in teaching quality and curriculum, and provide students with more time in the classroom and greater opportunities for community involvement. Schools may also close and reopen under a new operational structure—the restart model—or they may shut down and enroll their students in nearby higher-performing schools.

Michael Kohlhagen’s Experience at Columbia University

Before he embarked on a career in education, Michael Kohlhagen studied at several universities to grasp a comprehensive understanding of developmental and behavioral issues. Michael Kohlhagen started attending Columbia University in 1995, and he plans to complete his Doctor of Education within the next year.

Those who attend the Teachers College Education Urban Leadership Program study a broad range of courses designed to prepare them for careers in teaching or education administration. The program meets the needs of all students equitably. Examples of fundamental ideals taught at Columbia University in New York include an overview of educational policy, leadership qualities, effective teaching principles, organizational culture and behavior, and social science practice and research. After attending this program, Michael Kohlhagen grasped a comprehensive understanding of the issues presented in the course of teaching and managing students and faculty in a contemporary environment. At Columbia University, Michael Kohlhagen studied under some of the most talented professors in the country. Michael Kohlhagen remains grateful for the fundamental training he received at Columbia.

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The Academic Budget Crisis – Reform Strategies to Fill the Gap, by Michael Kohlhagen (2/2)

At this juncture, limited educational financing stands as a harsh reality for many of America’s public school administrators. Necessitating creative resource management, the budget cuts of the past few years forced me to closely reevaluate my actions, a challenge I eagerly undertook in hopes of providing young minds with a springboard for a bright future. To this end, I strive to position myself as a catalyst for educational reform that adapts to student needs. Properly investing in our children’s potential requires time and effort, as no simple answers exist to the current budgetary conundrum. First and foremost, I advocate for student-centric changes in policy that acknowledge every student’s unique gifts, as well as their academic shortfalls. With the assistance of a committed teaching staff and the latest advancements in scholastic evaluative technology, I retain hope that we can overcome the challenges presented by decreased educational funding.

About the author:

An academic administrator with nearly two decades of experience in upper-management leadership, Michael Kohlhagen most recently served as the Superintendent of Schools for Wethersfield Public Schools in Connecticut. Accomplishing a great deal over the course of his tenure as Superintendent of Schools, Michael Kohlhagen focused considerable attention on improving students’ scholastic performance, implementing a number of innovative programs that facilitated higher scores in the Connecticut Mastery Tests (CMT), as well as the SATs. Responsible for shaping policies that directly affected the strategies utilized to educate more than 3,800 students, Michael Kohlhagen collaborated with Wethersfield Public Schools teachers in an actionable manner, bolstering district-wide improvement in literacy, mathematics, and science.

Michael Kohlhagen maintained a similar track record of success prior to joining Wethersfield Public Schools. During his time with the New York City Department of Education, Michael Kohlhagen acted as the Director of Pupil Personnel Services, Assistant Director of Funded Programs, and Executive Administrator for the Office of the Superintendent. Subsequently, Michael Kohlhagen stepped into a role as the Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services for Hartford Public Schools. Currently completing his Ed.D. in Education Administration at Columbia University, Michael Kohlhagen holds a firm commitment to expanding his knowledge and capabilities to the utmost degree.

The Academic Budget Crisis – Reform Strategies to Fill the Gap, by Michael Kohlhagen (1/2)

by Michael Kohlhagen

Facing a multitude of challenges in recent years due to widespread budgetary cuts, academic administrators must reevaluate some commonly accepted approaches to their work. Coping with diminished resources, many education professionals like myself opt to employ new directorial tactics, allocating additional funds for pioneering efforts targeted to reform existing classroom modules. According to recent statistics obtained by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the economic recession of the past few years has inflicted a notable fiscal blow to the budgetary infrastructure of elementary and secondary schools across the country.

Data gleaned from the AASA survey shows that 34 percent of respondents expect furloughs in 2011, with 66 percent anticipating layoffs in the coming year as well. Regarding the effect that sweeping budget cuts elicit on students, 57 percent of those surveyed reported increased class sizes during the 2010-2011 school year, and 65 percent foresee a similar trend in 2011-2012. Compounding the difficulties confronting administrators and teachers, 27 percent of AASA survey respondents noted that they eliminated summer school programs during the 2010-2011 academic year, and 40 percent predict summer program cuts in 2011-2012.

Moreover, 17 percent of those polled were forced to reduce the frequency and duration of collaborative planning sessions between Administration and faculty with26 percent forecasting the continuation of this trend in 2011-2012. A large volume of research exists that spotlights the positive effects of smaller class sizes, special programs, and teacher collaboration.

In a December 2010 article published by the Learning First Alliance, Anne O’Brien points out that students in grades K-3 placed in classes with fewer than 18 students perform at a higher level on standardized reading and mathematics exams. In a similar vein, minority students demonstrate marked gains in test performance when they receive individualized attention from teachers, yet another positive facet tied to a reduction in class size. The Learning First Alliance article also acknowledges an analogous correlation between minimized class size and scholastic achievement for middle and high school students.

by Michael Kohlhagen

Michael Kohlhagen’s Experience at Columbia University

Before he embarked on a career in education, Michael Kohlhagen studied at several universities to grasp a comprehensive understanding of developmental and behavioral issues. Michael Kohlhagen started attending Columbia University in 1995, and he plans to complete his Doctor of Education within the next year.

Those who attend the Teachers College Education Urban Leadership Program study a broad range of courses designed to prepare them for careers in teaching or education administration. The program meets the needs of all students equitably. Examples of fundamental ideals taught at Columbia University in New York include an overview of educational policy, leadership qualities, effective teaching principles, organizational culture and behavior, and social science practice and research. After attending this program, Michael Kohlhagen grasped a comprehensive understanding of the issues presented in the course of teaching and managing students and faculty in a contemporary environment. At Columbia University, Michael Kohlhagen studied under some of the most talented professors in the country. Michael Kohlhagen remains grateful for the fundamental training he received at Columbia.

 

 

Columbia University

An accomplished education administrator with more than 20 years of experience, Michael Kohlhagen is currently working toward his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at Columbia University. A member of the Ivy League, Columbia University stands as one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the United States. Founded in 1754 as one of the nine original Colonial Colleges, Columbia University originally existed as King’s College thanks to a royal charter from King George II of England. During its early years, Columbia University existed as a Church of England school created in opposition to the largely Presbyterian College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). Classes at Columbia University came to a halt for eight years during the American Revolution, with the school’s only building serving as a military hospital.

Columbia University continued to expand over the next 200 years, changing locations on a number of occasions and establishing a host of new structures and graduate schools. Widely recognized as one of the top universities in the United States, Columbia University ranks fourth in the country according to the 2010 U.S. News & World Report. A number of schools within Columbia University also enjoy a top 10 ranking, including the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Business School, Law School, and the School of Social Work. Columbia University is also one of the most selective schools in the country, admitting only 9.16 percent of applicants for the class of 2014.

A number of famous alumni have passed through Columbia University over the years, including 5 Founding Fathers, 4 U.S. Presidents, 9 Supreme Court Justices, 26 foreign leaders, and 97 Nobel Prize winners. In 1968, students at Columbia University protested against the building of a gymnasium in Harlem and the school’s involvement in the Pentagon’s weapons research think-tank, causing New York City police to arrive and forcibly break up the protest. During the 1970s and 80s, Columbia University students led hunger strikes and barricades of Hamilton Hall in protest of South African apartheid.