Department of Education Invites Districts to Apply for $120 Million in Race to the Top Funds to Support Classroom-Level Reform Efforts

From a Department of Education Press Release

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that it has finalized the application for the 2013 Race to the Top-District competition, which will provide nearly $120 million 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 is an opportunity for trailblazing districts across the country to implement models of personalized learning so that every child graduates college and career ready," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "The program is designed to support teachers and school leaders in their use of innovative strategies as we seek to build a stronger future for America's students."

Race to the Top, launched in 2009, has inspired dramatic education reform nationwide, leading 46 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.

In 2012, the Department rolled out Race to the Top-District to support bold, locally directed improvements in learning and teaching. 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. The Department awarded approximately $383 million to 16 Race to the Top-District grantees representing 55 local educational agencies (LEAs), with grants ranging from $10 to $40 million.

This year, the Race to the Top-District competition seeks to build on the innovative strategies already employed in classrooms across the country. This year's competition invites applicants to demonstrate how they can personalize education for all students and is aimed squarely at classrooms and the all-important 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.

Applicants from all districts are invited to apply. 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 in a State with a Race to the Top grant and districts that are not. These 4-year awards will range from $4 million to $30 million, depending on the population of students served through the plan.

Grantees will be 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 will focus on transforming the learning environment so that it meets all students' learning abilities, making equity and access to high-quality education a priority. Teachers will receive real-time feedback that helps them adapt to their students' needs, allowing them to create opportunities for students to pursue areas of personal academic interest—while ensuring that each student is ready for college and their career.

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.

More information, including the application for the Race to the Top-District competition, can be found at:www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-district. The Department is requesting interested districts to submit their intent to apply by August 23, 2013. Applications are due Oct. 3, 2013 with awards being announced no later than Dec. 31, 2013.

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