Funding, Grants & Awards
Race to the Top Turns Arkansas 4th Graders Into 'Biologists'
$26-million Race to the Top-District grant two
years ago to the Springdale Public Schools means a class of fourth-grade "biologists"
at Monitor Elementary School can pick out which animals would be best
fictitious exhibit they are planning for the Little Rock Zoo.
being one of 25 school districts in 2013 to
share $120 million in Race to the Top-District grant funding, the Springdale district has
spent $12.7 million
on technology alone, including $8.7 million for Chromebooks, iPads and
to hold the devices. More than 16,000 Chromebooks have been distributed
students in grades 3-12 and 5,100 iPad minis
grant also helped the district upgrade its
wireless connectivity to power all those devices and $845,000 to fund
training organized by the University of Missouri College of Education.
the Top is a federal program focused on driving changes in
through competitive grants to states, with an eye toward reforming
standards, investing in teachers and education leadership, improving
achievement in schools whose students have performed poorly on
tests and developing data systems that follow students from "cradle to
career." Race to the Top–District is a program within the Race to the
initiative that is designed to support "local reforms that will
personalize learning, close achievement gaps and prepare each student
college and their careers."
project in the Monitor Elementary classroom requires every student to
certain animals online, write a report on its diet and habitat and then
a digital presentation with a picture and key facts about the animal.
end of the project, the students will vote on which animals to place in
is the underlying guide," said their teacher, Sara Kennedy. "It's
of them. The kids will want to do these high-quality lessons."
Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.