In a May 22, 2012 press release, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced its proposed requirements for its $400 million Race to the Top – District (RTT-D) Program that will focus on education reform at the school-district level. ED Secretary Arne Duncan stated “With this competition, we are inviting districts to show us how they can personalize education for a set of students in their schools. We need to take classroom learning beyond a one-size-fits-all model and bring it into the 21st century.” ED will accept RTT-D applications from school districts or groups of school districts (consortiums) serving a minimum of 2,500 students with at least 40 percent qualifying for the free or reduced price lunch program; districts in states that previously won state-level RRT grants are eligible to apply. ED proposes of offer competitive preferences to applicants that form public and private partnerships in order to better advance education reform goals. Individual awards will range from $15 million to $25 million based on the student population served by the applicant’s plan.
The draft RTT-D Program describes Absolute Priorities 1 through 5 and specifies that ED will accept only applications that address Absolute Priority 1 and one of the Absolute Priorities 2 through 5. Absolute Priority 1 requires each applicant to address how it will create personalized or student-centered learning environment(s) to raise student achievement, decrease achievement gaps, and increase high school graduation rates. Absolute Priorities 2 through 5 are to be addressed based on whether the applicant is in a state that previously won an RTT award and whether the applicant serves students in rural areas.
ED invites public comments on the draft RTT-D Program through June 8th and plans to release the Program application in July with an October submission deadline. Awards will be announced by December 31st.
Additional information about ED’s draft RTT-D Program is available at http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition.