The 2012 Race to the Top competition has switched its focus from the state level down to individual districts. This year, school districts can compete individually or as a team for a portion of the $4.35 billion up for grabs. To qualify, districts must serve at least 2,500 students, 40 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced lunch.
The new competition provides a way for school districts located within states that have previously refused to compete to create transformative plans for their schools. Race to the Top 2012 encourages districts to create personalized learning plans to prepare students for college and careers.
“With this competition, we are inviting districts to show us how they can personalize education for a set of students in their schools,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. He then expanded by saying that the competition is “aimed squarely at the classroom level and the all-important relationship among teachers and students.”
Designed to improve schools and encourage them to rethink the way they deliver education, Race to the Top allows districts to use funding to adjust learning to individual students’ needs, including adding personal devices to schools in an effort to create a 1:1 learning environment.
Aiding teacher instruction and tracking student achievement play heavily into Race to the Top funding. As such, it is important to think about ways in which competition funds can be used to integrate technology into classrooms.
Studies have found that when technology is a routine part of the school experience, student achievement increases, dropout rates decline and student attendance improves. Additionally, 60 percent of teachers say digital media helps them be more effective and 3 out of 4 teachers say digital media helps them respond to a variety of learning styles.
With MediaCAST’s digital content management and video streaming solutions, technology can be used to improve student performance in struggling schools. MediaCAST allows students and teachers to access a variety of media files including video, audio, ebooks and many more from any device with internet access.
Resources loaded into MediaCAST can be linked to state standards, permitting teachers to easily select instructional materials based on the lesson they are teaching. Additionally, MediaCAST can be used to provide students access to materials used in class from home or during after school tutoring provided by the school.
Applications for Race to the Top are due by October, with decisions being made in December. Does your school district plan to apply for Race to the Top funds this year?