The U.S. Department of Education has finalized the application for the 2012 Race to the Top-District competition, which will provide nearly $400 million to support school districts in implementing local reforms that will personalize learning, close achievement gaps and take advantage of 21st century tools that prepare each student for college and their careers.
The program sets a high bar to fund those districts that have a track record of success, clear vision for reform, and innovative plans to transform the learning environment and accelerate student achievement.
Race to the Top, launched in 2009, has inspired dramatic education reform nationwide, leading 45 states and the District of Columbia to pursue higher college- and career-ready standards, data-driven decision making, greater support for teachers and leaders, and turnaround interventions in low performing schools. The next phase proposes to build on those principles at the classroom level to support bold, locally directed improvements in learning and teaching that will directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness.
The Race to the Top-District competition invites applicants to demonstrate how they can personalize education for all students and is aimed at classrooms and the relationship between teachers and students. The competition will encourage transformative change within schools, providing school leaders and teachers with key tools and support in order to best meet their students’ needs.
The 2012 final program criteria invites applications from districts or groups of districts proposing to serve at least 2,000 students with 40 percent or more qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch. Districts can choose to 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 four core reform areas and have signoff on their plan from the district superintendent or CEO, local school board president, and local teacher union or association president (where applicable) in order to be eligible.
The department plans to support high-quality proposals from applicants across a variety of districts, including rural and non-rural as well as those already participating in a Race to the Top state grant and districts not participating. These 4-year awards will range from $5 million to $40 million, depending on the population of students served through the plan. The Department is expecting to make 15-25 awards.
More information, including the finalized application for the Race to the Top-District competition, can be found at: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-district/index.html. The Department is requesting interested districts to submit their intent to apply by Aug. 30, and will offer webinars and conference calls over the coming weeks to provide technical assistance. Applications are due Oct. 30, with awards being announced no later than Dec. 31, 2012.