Funding, Grants & Awards | News

Winners of Race to the Top Districts Put Millions into Personalized Learning

Sixteen districts out of 372 applicants that vied for funding from the Race to the Top-District program have been chosen as the recipients of four-year multi-million grants from the United States Department of Education. Among the winners, three districts in California, two from Texas, a consortia of schools from the state of Washington and another from Kentucky, and districts in Florida, Nevada, North and South Carolina, Indiana, New York, Colorado, and Washington, D.C.

Race to the Top-District was a national follow-on to Race to the Top, which launched in 2009 to spur states to reform their education programs in areas of turnaround interventions, adoption of data-driven decision-making, and other elements. The District program is supporting local plans that focus on student achievement and educator effectiveness. Personalized learning is a major emphasis in the applications. Another requirement was proof that the districts had collaborated with teachers, parents, and leaders of public and private organizations to ensure their vision was supported by key community stakeholders.

The winning districts will share nearly $400 million in awards that vary depending on the number of students served through the plan.

"There were many, many more strong applicants than we had money," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "We want districts to keep moving on these blueprints for reform to transform the learning environment and ultimately prepare every student for college and their career."

Carson City School District in Nevada will be applying its $10 million in funding to teacher mentoring, which it has already tested at one of its middle schools, and to establish a data collection system for tracking student progress and aligning curriculum and assessment.

According to coverage in the Indianapolis Star, the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township in Indiana will be applying its $28.5 million to acquire new forms of classroom technology--particularly laptops and iPads--and the construction of "state-of-the-art" media centers with flex hours to increase personalized learning opportunities for its students.

Seven school districts in the Puget Sound Educational Service District in Washington state teamed up to submit an application that drew a $40 million grant, the maximum amount allocated. Plans include adding computer-based math instruction for high-, , need K-8 students that can be used at school and home; expansion of a program to help students explore careers in science, technology, engineering, and math via online tools, speakers, mentors, and internships; and offering free SAT and PSAT testing to all students, among other initiatives. The service district will serve as the lead on the project and manage the funds.

The winners encompass these districts and consortia:

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.