The U.S. Department of Education has announced that $400 million is available to school districts in support of local reforms designed to personalize learning, close achievement gaps, and better prepare students for college and careers.
As many as twenty-five grants ranging from $5 million to $40 million over four years will be awarded through the Race to the Top-District program to fund classroom-level reforms to help school leaders and teachers best meet their students' needs. Districts or groups of districts proposing to serve at least two thousand students, of whom 40 percent or more qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, may apply for funding to support learning strategies that personalize education in all or a set of schools, within specific grade levels, or select subjects.
Districts must demonstrate a commitment to Race to the Top's core reform areas: adopting standards and assessments for college and career readiness; building data systems that measure student achievement and help improve instruction; recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially in high-need schools; and turning around low-performing schools. Competitive preference will be given to applicants that form partnerships with public and private organizations to sustain their work and offer services that help meet students' academic, social, and emotional needs. The DOE requests that applicants submit their intent to apply by August 30. Applications are due October 30, and awards will be announced no later than December 31.
Launched in 2009 as the DOE's $4.35 billion effort to reform America's education system, Race to the Top has supported state reforms in the core areas. The new phase will build on those principles at the classroom level to support bold, locally directed improvements in learning and teaching that will make a direct impact on student achievement and teacher effectiveness.
"Race to the Top helped bring about groundbreaking education reforms in states across the country. Building off that success, we're now going to help support reform at the local level with the new district competition," said secretary of education Arne Duncan. "We want to help schools become engines of innovation through personalized learning so that every child in America can receive the world-class public education they deserve. The Race to the Top-District competition will help us meet that goal."