The Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, a consortium of 18 rural districts, is one of five applicants that will receive a total of approximately $120 million in the second round of the Race to the Top-District (RTT-D) competition, the U.S. Department of Education has announced.

The five applicants have won grants that will support locally developed plans to personalize and improve student learning, directly increase student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps and prepare every student for success in college and careers.

Through these grants, school districts will be able to better support teachers and students by increasing educational opportunities. The grants also will help teachers tailor their approach to meet their students’ needs, allow them to collaborate in new ways and provide students with resources that enable them to access a world-class education no matter where they are.

The other winners are:

  • Clarendon County school district 2 (consortium of four rural districts), South Carolina
  • Clarksdale Municipal school district, Mississippi
  • Houston Independent school district, Texas
  • Springdale school district, Arkansas

These winners particularly shine a light on the innovative work going on in rural school districts across the country to tailor education for all students and provide school leaders and teachers with key tools that support them in meeting students’ needs.

The grantees were selected from 31 finalists representing 80 school districts across 21 states. The department received more than 200 applications for the competition.

“These winners serve as an example to the rest of the country for how to develop innovative plans to drive education reform and improve student achievement,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “These diverse, trailblazing districts have a clear vision and track record of success for models of personalized learning that aim for every child to graduate from high school ready for college and careers.”

Gov. Steve Beshear issued a statement in response the Race to the Top announcement

“I’m extremely proud that for the second time, Kentucky is a winner in the Race to the Top District competition. I was pleased to support the nomination of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative and the 18 districts it represents in eastern Kentucky,” he said. “The KVEC represents rural districts who are working hard to ensure their students receive top-notch educational opportunities.  This group competed against numerous school districts across the nation and came out on top, reinforcing Kentucky’s position as a leader in education.  Today’s announcement further solidifies our commitment to being the best, and I look forward to continued progress of the KVEC districts thanks to the direct benefits of this grant.”

Consistent with the Department’s plan to select high-quality proposals from applications across a variety of districts, the winners represent a range of districts, both rural and non-rural, from both Race to the Top states and non-Race to the Top states.

These grantees complement the department’s efforts to increase support for schools across the country and provide educators and students with access to resources that equip them to deepen student learning through locally developed strategies.

Grantees were selected based on their vision and capacity for reform as well as a strong plan that provides educators with resources to accelerate student achievement and prepare students for college and their careers. Plans focused on transforming the learning environment so that it meets all students’ learning abilities, making equity and access to high-quality education a priority. The program also offers competitive preference to applicants that form partnerships with public and private organizations to offer services that help meet students’ academic, social, and emotional needs, outside of the classroom.

The list of 2013 Race to the Top-District winners is attached and posted on the department’s website.