ED Announces 31 Finalists for $120 Million RTT-D

The U.S. Department of Education announced that 31 applications have been selected as finalists for the Race to the Top-District (RTTT-D) competition. The 2013 RTTT-D program will provide close to $120 million to 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.

The 31 finalists, representing 80 school districts across 21 states, were selected from over 200 applications the Department received in October to demonstrate how districts could personalize education for students and provide school leaders and teachers with key tools that support them in meeting students’ needs.

“This year’s finalists created innovative plans, to drive education reform and improve student achievement, that serve as an example for the rest of the country,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “This competition supports local efforts of diverse, trailblazing districts across the country to implement models of personalized learning so that every child graduates college and career ready.   No matter who wins, children across the country will benefit from the clear vision and track records of success demonstrated by these finalists.”

Race to the Top-District applications were randomly assigned to three-person panels that independently read and scored each application, with independent reviewers’ scores averaged to determine an applicant’s score. The Department arranged the applications in rank order from high to low scores, and determined which the strongest competitors to invite back were based on “natural breaks” – i.e. scoring gaps in the lineup. The top 31 applications were then selected as finalists.

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

The Department expects to select 5-10 winning applications from the 2013 Race to the Top-District competition for four-year awards, which will range from $4 million to $30 million, depending on the population of students served through the plan. Awards will be announced no later than Dec. 31, 2013.

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 that prepare them for success in their future.

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 Department has posted the list of districts that submitted an application and the finalists on its website: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-district/index.html. The list includes all districts that applied and does not indicate their eligibility for the competition.

Note: Core Education partnered with Baltimore City Public Schools on their Race to the Top District application. We congratulate Baltimore City for making the list of 31 finalists.