They are among the 5,000 worst schools in America, where the percentage of kids who can read or do math at grade level often hovers in the teens or 20s and only about half graduate. These schools are sharing $5 billion in federal tax dollars in a massive, three-year rescue effort, but no one nationally is tracking how the money is spent and no one can say whether the influx of cash will end up helping kids. A Denver Post investigation found one clear winner so far: consultants. In Colorado—one of the few states willing to tally such spending—consultants are taking home 35 percent, or $9.4 million, of the $26.6 million that came to the state from the U.S. Department of Education in the past two years. The money is buying instructional coaches for teachers, leadership coaches for principals, analysts to pore over test data and pricey three-day professional-development seminars on changing school culture…

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