Eighteen Ohio school districts could receive up to $40 million in federal district-level Race to the Top grants.
Cleveland, Reynoldsburg and a group of 15 schools in southeastern Ohio are among the 61 finalists.
This round of Race to the Top funding is supposed to encourage schools to “personalize” education. For many applicants, that means expanding online education.
Both Reynoldsburg and the Ohio Appalachian Personalized Learning Network Collaborative propose to use district Race to the Top funds in part to expand various forms of online instruction.
Cleveland would use the money to create more schools that focus on project-based learning, according to the Ohio Department of Education.
The federal government awarded Ohio nearly $500 million in earlier rounds of Race to the Top grants. That includes a statewide $400 million Race to the Top grant in 2010 and $70 million to improve preschool programs statewide last year.
So how’s this round of Race to the Top District from those earlier rounds?
First of all, this round is only open to districts, charter schools and other groups. Previous Race to the Top grant competitions were only open to states.
The district-level Race to the Top competition gives strong preference to applicants that have a record of improving student performance and that can clearly show that everyone involved–teachers, unions and local officials–is on board. And making sure rural districts have a good shot at winning part of this round of grants is a priority for the U.S. Department of Education too.
The U.S. Department of Education expects to select 15-25 winning applications from the Race to the Top district-level competition by the end of this year. The grants will be worth $5 million-$40 million over four years.