Secretary Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education recently announced a new Race to the Top District (RTT-D) competition, one that is aimed at the classroom level with a focus on the relationship between teachers and students.
The proposed competition offers nearly $400 million in grants and invites school districts to create plans for individualized classroom instruction aimed at closing achievement gaps and preparing each student for college and career. The department anticipates giving out as many as 20 four-year grants of up to $25 million each. Districts can apply individually or as a consortium.
One of the five absolute priorities is a focus on personalization of instruction, which the RTT-D criteria describe as “student centered learning environment(s) that are designed to: significantly improve teaching and learning through the personalization of strategies, tools, and supports for teachers and students that are aligned with college- and career-ready standards (as defined in this document); increase the effectiveness of educators, and expand student access to the most effective educators in order to raise student achievement; decrease the achievement gap across student groups; and increase the rates at which students graduate from high school prepared for college and careers.”
Applicant must annually serve a minimum of 2,500 participating students. At least forty percent of participating students across all participating schools must be students from low-income families, based on eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch subsidies under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, or other poverty measures that local educational agencies (LEAs) use to make awards under section 1113(a) of the ESEA.
The Department is accepting comments on the RTT-D executive summary, eligibility criteria, application requirements, absolute priorities, selection criteria, competitive preference priority, and program requirements through its website comments form. Though the Department will not respond to comments, the Department will read and consider all comments in finalizing the RTT-D competition design.
The Department plans to release the application in July with an October submission deadline. Awards will be announced no later than Dec. 31, 2012.
The RTT-D press release and Senator Arne Duncan’s speech are available of the Department of Education website. Read more about RTT-D from International Reading Association Director of Government Relations Richard Long.